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

From: Alejandro Agafonow <>
Date: Wed Nov 05 2008 - 03:02:31 EST

Paul C. & Jerry   Paul C.: “However one has to take into account the risk factor. One would need some indicator of whether a project was likely to succeed.”   “[…] managers of the variuos economic organs of the community. They must be free to experiment with new products, with alternative methods of production, and with the substitution of one kind of material, machine, or labour for another. But independence involves responsibility. The manager must be made to realize his responsibility for the decisions that he makes. Now responsibility means in practice financial responsibility. The manager’s personal remuneration must in some way reflect his success or failure as a manager. Unless he bears responsibility for losses as well as for profits he will be tempted to embark on all sorts of risky experiments on the bare chance that one of them will turn out successfully. It will be ‘heads I win, tails you lose’ between himself and the community.” (Dickinson, 1971: 213-214),M1     So, I repeat: how free are those people responsible for a certain productive unit to dispose of the labour budget in order to produce the best they can?   Efficiency relates very few to the “inheritance of a more efficient array of plant and equipment at the time of the revolution” as Jerry seems to sustain. Once inherited an array of plant and equipment, how long can we attribute to it the efficiency of a productive unit? In a dynamic economy not so long.   I am against a cult of efficiency since it undermines the bases of a stable and healthy social life. But Jerry seems to have a “cult of asceticism” that in the current state of development of social productive forces will certainly lead to waste and productive paralysis.   Regards, A. Agafonow ________________________________ De: Paul Cockshott <> Para: Outline on Political Economy mailing list <> Enviado: martes, 4 de noviembre, 2008 18:14:26 Asunto: RE: [OPE] Invention, Inventors, and the Productivity of Labor In many cases though it would be sensible to close down the project using obsolete equipment, whether it makes overall sense to do this would depend on planning feasibility. It may still be necessary to keep some obsolete plants running because of the time it takes to replace them with new ones. If a project wanted to continue operating on the basis of changed technologies it could put this proposal forward, and if the proposal showed a significant gain over the currently best technique then it would stand a chance of success. However one has to take into account the risk factor. One would need some indicator of whether a project was likely to succeed Paul Cockshott Dept of Computing Science University of Glasgow +44 141 330 1629 -----Original Message----- From: on behalf of GERALD LEVY Sent: Tue 11/4/2008 3:32 PM To: Outline on Political Economy mailing list Subject: RE: [OPE] Invention, Inventors, and the Productivity of Labor > If a socialist economy has reached the stage where it can be concerned > about such things, which is only after initial industrialisation,> then what should be done is fix labour budgets for units of production. > If a unit of production making good A is producing efficiently and > another also making A> inefficiently, then the labour budget of the efficient unit should be > increased to expand production there and the labour budget> of the less efficient one correspondingly reduced. In effect labour is > transfered to the more efficient unit. The collective in> the inefficient unit then has an incentive to improve their utilisation > of resources to keep their work teams together come the> next plan period. Hi Paul C: Assume that one 'unit of production' producing good A is more efficient than another unit of production producing good A due to more advanced technologies being utilized in the former. The system that you outline above would reward the collective which is more efficient and punish the one which is relatively inefficient for no other reason than, perhaps, the former inherited a more efficient array of plant and equipment at the time of the revolution. It hardly seems fair to me to punish the workers in the second collective for decisions made previously by their bourgeois management. We must avoid a 'cult of efficiency', imo, on socialist ethical grounds. This question has important political ramifications if it were, especially, placed within the context of an international socialist division of labor. In solidarity, Jerry

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