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

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Thu Dec 20 2007 - 02:39:58 EST


I regret to say I lack the time at present to go into this in great detail, since that would involve me in a major piece of legal and statistical research. I am in the middle of editing Marcel van der Linden's book "The workers and the world" and there's stuff to do for Xmas plus other matters. 

Suffice to say that in Western Europe a finely graded system of benefit entitlement and wages exists in most countries of the type I specified, which implicitly expresses the social valuation of labour power current at the time and which recognises certain minimum costs which must necessarily be met as prerequite for survival, employability and childraising. The point is really that market forces (the forces of supply and demand) alone cannot and do not establish what labour power is worth or should be worth, and that the labour market does not function like any other market. What we can empirically observe is is existence of a normal, accepted living standard, which is a social average and which does not fluctuate very much in the short term. 

In the case of New Zealand, the value of labour power has been strongly eroded through the last 20 years, as the country moved to a low-wage economy, and this is also reflected in benefit entitlement. Welfare beneficiaries without children in New Zealand are now worse off in relation to the average worker than at any time in the past 26 years, and probably in the last 60 years. Auckland University research showed that the net dole for a single adult without children dropped from 45 per cent of the net average wage in 1986 to 28 per cent today. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/11/story.cfm?c_id=11&objectid=10430116alThis is part of a deliberate state policy to force people to work for low wages rather than not work at all, i.e. it is part of a socially constructed compulsion to sell labour-power regardless of the state of the market. 


This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Mon Dec 31 2007 - 00:00:04 EST