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

From: GERALD LEVY (gerald_a_levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Sat Dec 15 2007 - 11:38:59 EST

Hi Jurriaan:
Thanks for the last information-filled posts.  I liked the quote from Blaug!
I'll take just a few small bites now:
> Marx very clearly viewed the VLP as an "average total cost-of-living calculated over a year", and indeed he provides a mathematical equation for it:
"But in whatever way the sum total of these outlays may be spread over the year, they must be covered by the average income, taking one day with another. If the total of the commodities required daily for the production of labour-power = A, and those required weekly = B, and those required quarterly = C, and so on, the daily average of these commodities = 365A + 52B + 4C + &c / 365." 
I think that the period chosen (a year) was done for simplifying
purposes and nothing of importance rides on an acceptance of
that time period as a frame of reference.
> The theoretically important point to understand is, that this average cost-of-living, or living standard, is established INDEPENDENTLY of wage fluctuations. It is an aggregate result of the functioning of the economy as a whole. That is precisely why Marx says that the VLP is "fixed" already before any buying and selling of labour-power occurs.<
I don't think that can really stand a lot of scrutiny, though, since class
struggles over wages can result _over time_ in a change in the "moral
and historical" element and thus cause the average living standard to
change.  So, wages and the VLP aren't exactly "independent" but 
theey're not the same either.
> Marx writes:"Wages themselves again take many forms, a fact not recognizable in the ordinary economic treatises which, exclusively interested in the material side of the question, neglect every difference of form. An exposition of all these forms however, belongs to the special study of wage labour, not therefore to this work." <
If Mike L also was still on the list, I'm sure he'd have something to say about that quote!
It seems reasonable to also expect that when one considers the different
forms that wages take more concretely one  then considers the more
concrete relation and inter-relation between those forms and the VLP.   
In solidarity, Jerry


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