RE: [OPE] Invention, Inventors, and the Productivity of Labor

Date: Sun Nov 02 2008 - 17:00:10 EST

>>The fuel efficiency improvements which you refer to are instances of>> 'capital-goods-saving technical change' which, while they lower the constant>> circulating capital requirements, do not increase the productivity of labor.> I dont see this. The fuel efficiency of diesel engines has gone from around> 20% for the first marine diesels to around 50% now. If one compares it with> the fuel efficiency of the steam engines that the first marine deisels replaced> the difference is even greater.
Hi Paul C:
This I see (indeed, I have some first-hand experience on that subject). > This means a big reduction in the indirect labour required for transport -- much less> labour producing fuel is needed to move a ton from china to the usa than was required> 50 years ago, ( abstracting from changes in productivity in the oil industry ).> Thus the aggregate productivity of labour rises, and with it relative surplus value.
This I don't. The increased efficiency of the engines haven't reduced the labor
requirements to operate the transport or increased labor productivity - except
for what I suspect to be a marginal decrease in the labor required for bunkering.
There is a savings, of course: the ships require less fuel to travel a given speed and
distance. This reduces the constant circulating capital requirements of shipping
and also means that the ships themselves can be more efficient in the sense that
less space is 'wasted' for fuel (which really means that new ships are (re-)designed and
built so as to take advantage of these efficiencies).
The 'manning' requirements of commercial ships have indeed decreased dramatically
over the last 50 years but that is not because of the advances in diesel design
and efficiency.
In solidarity, Jerry

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Received on Sun Nov 2 17:02:01 2008

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