[OPE] Studying unproductive labor: CEPR report

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@tiscali.nl)
Date: Sat Mar 01 2008 - 07:40:40 EST

Paul C wrote:

"State expenditure on education and research is generally productive, as it enters indirectly into the production of relative surplus value".

Maybe the transmisson of skills & knowledge from one generation to the next is productive in the general sense that it makes labour more productive, but at least for Marx the issue was just whether the education & research involved the employment of labour by capitalists to make profits. It is not an expenditure which is productive, but the labour which it buys that is productive. 

To the extent that state expenditure funds non-profit education and research, the labour involved is not capitalistically productive although it can reduce the costs to capitalist business associated with research and training (in the same way that banks can reduce circulation costs). Thus, in Marx's view, capitalists have an interest in privatizing those parts of research & education which can yield profits, and in adapting education & training to the current and future requirements of business. It is just that schoolchildren cannot normally be turned into employees. 

Thus, Marx opines that the same non-productive school operated on a non-profit basis, funded by tax money, can become a productive business when it is operated for profit and funded directly by consumers of education. But the transition from the one to the other (the ransformation of education into a commodity) can be a highly contradictory process, which is reflected in neoclassical economics, since education is viewed simultaneously as a consumption of education services, and as an investment in human capital.


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