Re: [OPE-L] empirical measurement of changes in the value of labour-power

From: Dave Zachariah (davez@KTH.SE)
Date: Wed Dec 12 2007 - 13:05:40 EST

Hi Jerry,

I think the concept of "value of labour-power" is a bit problematic.

Would it not be better to explicitly distinguish:

    (a) the labour-value of the real wage
    (b) the total labour (social *and* domestic) necessary to reproduce
    the capacity to work

Therefore if "the price of wheat goes up in the next 3 months but falls
afterwards, then during those 3 months real wages would decline ceteris
paribus", and so would (a), which I intepret as the "value of labour-power".

//Dave Z

on 2007-12-11 15:31 GERALD LEVY wrote:
>     What we can empirically measure, is such things as:
>     - the (total) costs to capital of labour employed (not just the
>     gross wage, but also various levies)
>     - the (total, i.e. current disposable income + deferred income) of
>     the worker
>     - the expenditure of the worker's labour income on goods and services
>     - the goods and services purchased by the worker
>     - the difference between direct and indirect taxes and levies
>     charged, and social security benefits received
>     - the costs of replacing the worker (including the costs of
>     raising children)
>     - the paid and unpaid labourtime involved in reproducing the
>     worker to arrive each day fit to work
>     ======================================
>     Hi Jurriaan:
>     What statistics are available which allow us to make international
>     comparisons for the last two things identified above?
>     ======================================
>     - the realised income differential of skilled labour resulting
>     from education & training, or seniority
>     - the financial benefit deriving from skill monopolisation
>     - the economic rent that ensues from labour scarcity
>     Insofar as the VLP includes, as Marx says, a "moral-historical
>     element", no complete measurement of the VLP is ever possible
>     which is incontestable,
>     ========================================
>     Agreed.  the difficulty of estimating the "moral-historical
>     element" is
>     also compounded by the fact that in some social formations,
>     firms pay-out to workers in direct compensation and benefits
>     monies for goods or services which in other social
>     formations are paid by the state and represent a sort of "social
>     wage".
>     As for the question which you originally raised (before I
>     side-tracked it), whether changes in food prices cause a
>     change in the VLP (or a change in real wages) depends on
>     whether the change in food prices is short-term and
>     temporary or long-term.  If the price of wheat goes up
>     in the next 3 months but falls afterwards, then during those
>     3 months real wages would decline ceteris paribus but this does
>     not mean that the VLP itself will change.
>     In solidarity, Jerry

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