Re: [OPE-L] a paper on Marx's transformation problem and Ricardo's problem of an invariable measure of value

From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK)
Date: Wed Jul 18 2007 - 16:31:44 EDT

> Consider a simple corn economy, which, using the standard commodity
> allows us to model any such process of production.

I don't understand this statement.

I mean you can substitute the standard commodity for corn without
changing the
Substance of the argument, so it is quite general.

> Suppose that for each seed of maize sown 100 are harvested. Suppose
> the the maize harvest is 100 million tons and involves 10 million
> years direct labour input. Let us assume that there are 10^6 grains of
> maize per ton, which is correct to an order of magnitude. We can then
> express the harvest in terms of seeds 10^14 seeds. 10^12 seeds would
> have had to be sewn in the spring to produce this. That seed corn
> itself have required
> 10^10 seeds the previous year, 10^8 the year before that etc. Going
> 7 years we find that one seed was the logical ancestor of the entire
> crop. (I think by the way it is unrealisitic to define your quantities
> as reals rather than integers and rationals, which are all that ever
> exists in economics).
> If in year -7 this seed had been eaten, there would have been a
> shortfall of 100 seeds the next year, and if there was no
> reduction in consumption in year -6, the
> Shortfall would be 10,000 seed the next year - growing to the entire
> harvest after 7 years.
> But this does not imply that the population can not consume the entire
> net product each year, it only means that they have to correctly
> calculate the set-aside for re-sowing. This set-aside is not part of
> net product. So long as the population eat no more than
> 99,000,000,000,000 seeds each year production can continue without
> interruption.

None of this makes much sense to me. Are you describing an actual
historical trajectory or an alternative interpretation of the series
representation of the standard formula for labour-values? If the
latter, I cannot map this scenario to the series representation,
particularly since it is an infinite series.
I am describing an alternative, and what seems quite straight forward
interpretation of the series representation. This is the way I have
always understood the standard dated labour interpretation. 

If you formulate the series representation as an infinite series it is
obviously wrong as an economic argument, since no actual process can
involve infinities - this was established long ago by Aristotle, for a
more recent argument against the use of infinities in real computational
processes see the paper joint paper with Greg
Michaelson and Lewis Mackenzie,
and ( Cantor
diagonalisation and planning), by Greg Michaelson, Allin Cottrell and me
attacking the use of infintistic arguments by the Austrian school of

Any real economic process must have variables that are integers and
coefficients that are rationals, and the resulting time series have a
finite horizon.

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