Re: [OPE-L] Abstraction-human capital

From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK)
Date: Fri Jun 15 2007 - 11:01:36 EDT

I now understand your meaning here, you are viewing the 'human capital'
as analogous to constant capital in that it merely transfers the labour
spent in its training to the final product. I would agree with that.

-----Original Message-----
From: OPE-L [mailto:OPE-L@SUS.CSUCHICO.EDU] On Behalf Of Ian Hunt
Sent: 15 June 2007 02:13
Subject: Re: [OPE-L] Abstraction-human capital

I am not sure I understand your rejection of human capital. In Marx's
theory, fixed capital is a source of value but not of surplus value.
Similarly, human fixed capital will be a source of value but not
surplus value. The distinction between human fixed capital and
inhuman is that human fixed capital is exercised through human
labour, though of a specialized kind. Both inhuman and human fixed
capital contribute to the use-vale of the product and contribute to
there being a surplus product. The point about singling out labour as
the source of value added is that labour is is purposive activity
controlled through social relations of production that gives rise to
contestable  claims to a share of the product of social cooperation.
Machinery cannot step forward to claim a share of cooperation.
Otherwise, machinery and labour power are on a similar footing (Hence
Brody, Steedman, Wolff, et, al. argue that a productive Sraffa style
system can have a "steel theory of value", or 'land theory of value'
etc.) So the exercise of human capital will give rise to a claim
based on the exercise of the skill in labour and a claim based on the
fraction of the value of training passed on each year equal to the
fraction a year is of an average working life. There will be a
further issue of the fact that some skills increase before they
decline because of on the job training and the use value of skills
will vary because of differential aptitude, etc. This could be dealt
with as a matter of specialized skill amplified, so that the abstract
labour involved in the exercise of more productive versions of the
specialized skill will be greater than that in the exercise of less
productive versions in proportion to their productivity. Schefold did
some work on issues of fixed capital for a Sraffa style system that
might cast some light on the issue of amortization when skills
increase. The analysis of skilled labour is a bit of a work in
progress, I guess. So I am not sure the above suggestion is the best
solution of the problem.

>You are invoking 3 things here
>1. The labour time of the surgeon
>2. Human Capital
>3. Rent
>I am happy enough with the first and the last - under conditions of
>scarcity surgeons may earn rent. The notion of Human Capital though is
>one I am reluctant to accept. It stems, I
>Think from applying the neoclassical notion of capital as a source of
>value to humans, but in Marx's theory capital is not a source of value,
>so why should Human Capital be?
>-----Original Message-----
>From: OPE-L [mailto:OPE-L@SUS.CSUCHICO.EDU] On Behalf Of Ian Hunt
>Sent: 14 June 2007 11:58
>Subject: Re: [OPE-L] Abstraction
>Dear Paul
>   I should have added that you  can get the value of the special skill
>by Rubin and Hilferding's method. But the longer time is not just
>doing the same work slowly, it involves different concrete labours
>from surgery. The labour of learning takes years rather than just a
>pause to look up the DIY bricklaying guide. It may be only a
>quantitative difference but this amounts to the difference between
>trained labour power and a special skill. Therefore, rather than say
>that more hours of abstract labour are contained in the concrete
>labour of surgery, it would be better to say that the skill (as a bit
>of fixed human capital) imparts its value to the product on top of
>the labour the surgeon does. If the skills are scarce, there will be
>rent earned on top.
>>I only meant that you cannot get an ordinarily skilled person to do
>>the work of a surgeon over a longer period of time, as you can get an
>>ordinarily skilled person to do the work of a bricklayer, though over
>>a longer period of time
>>Are surgeons then from a different species?
>>All trades, that of surgeon included, involve a time acquiring the
>>Thus over a longer period of time you can get any person to do it -
>>that you set aside the time for them to gain the skill. This longer
>  >period
>>also applies to bricklaying - if it is to be done soundly rather than
>>a botched job of it. The time to aquire some skills is shorter than
>>but there is not a qualitative difference.
>Associate Professor Ian Hunt,
>Dept  of Philosophy, School of Humanities,
>Director, Centre for Applied Philosophy,
>Flinders University of SA,
>Humanities Building,
>Bedford Park, SA, 5042,
>Ph: (08) 8201 2054 Fax: (08) 8201 2784

Associate Professor Ian Hunt,
Dept  of Philosophy, School of Humanities,
Director, Centre for Applied Philosophy,
Flinders University of SA,
Humanities Building,
Bedford Park, SA, 5042,
Ph: (08) 8201 2054 Fax: (08) 8201 2784

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