From: GERALD LEVY (gerald_a_levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Wed Dec 12 2007 - 21:32:15 EST
> > Is the following the only reason you think so?> > > 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> Yes. I think the VLP was an ingenious theoretical invention by Marx but> it is also imprecise for the reason given above.> Take one wage-labourer, working for 1 month. ======================================== Hi Dave Z: Hold on. I don't think that this question should be framed in terms of "one wage-worker". This is a complicated question since a number of concepts (VLP, SNLT, abstract labour) are related to each other and because the period of time under consideration (and what happens during that time) is relevant. In general terms, I think that average wages (real and nominal) can be said to fluctuate around the VLP. In other words, the VLP represents a kind of *average value* which at a *given moment in time* can be assumed to be *given*. It incorporates a "historical and moral element" associated with a *given* social formation: in other words, the VLP is different in different societies and is subject to change. But, it is essentially a *long-run* concept. In the short-run, changes in the supply and demand for labour power (over various phases of the business cycle) can cause wages to be greater than or lesser than the VLP. Now, is this a worthwhile distinction? That also is a complicated question. It depends on whether you think that there needs to be an analysis in which short-run variations can occur independently from long-run averages. This is complicated because what happens in the short-run can cause there to be - *over time* - changes in standards of what constitutes SNLT and the VLP. It is complicated also because it concerns issues of comparative statics and dynamic analysis. Indeed, it's complicated for a number of other reasons as well! All the more reason for us all to discuss it, I say! In the concrete question of a change in food prices, I would ask: what are the underlying causes of the change in food prices? I think that short-term shortages, for example, need to be separated out from structural causes, like a major change in the productivity of labor in agriculture due to technological change. The first would lead to a change in real wage (or what you call the real wage vector) and the second would cause a change over time in the VLP. I do recognize, though, that there are some difficulties in "operationalizing" the concept of the VLP, especially in periods of rapid technological change and intense class struggle, and this can lead to measurement difficulties. If I have spoken past some points which you want to see addressed, please speak up. In solidarity, Jerry ==================================== > We have to distinguish:> 1. a (nominal) wage, i.e. the sum of money payed.> 2. a bundle of goods and services purchased, which I call a real> wage vector.> 3. the labour-value of that vector.> Thus I don't see a "fall of the wage below the value of labour-power",> rather I see a fall of the wage leading to a fall in the labour-value of> the real wage bundle. But the total labour necessary to reproduce the> capacity to work may be unchanged, and it is a matter of definition> whether one should call this or the labour-value of the real wage as> "VLP". But I think you run into problems if you don't distinguish them.
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