Re: [OPE] peanut butter value-form theory

From: Allin Cottrell <>
Date: Fri Apr 03 2009 - 22:11:01 EDT

On Thu, 2 Apr 2009, Alejandro Agafonow wrote:

> [T]he amount of labor-commanded should be counted to measure
> the degree of devaluation of labor-values due to the failure of
> dodgy crackers to satisfy concrete preferences...

"Preferences" have nothing to do with it: the US peanuts were
objectively contaminated and poisonous. Nobody in their right
might "prefers" salmonella.

But the labour commanded is indeed adjusted: it's the money price
divided by some measure of the wage. If the goods are unsaleable
the price is zero and the labour commanded is zero, regardless of
the wage rate one uses in the calculation. (And regardless of
what one reckons the "value" of the crackers is/was.)

> To understand what 'value' is one have to answer what makes the
> objective cost structure of the economy change. What is the
> primary force that cause a disruption in the objective cost
> structure?

The primary factor making for change in the cost structure is
technological change -- that's pretty obvious. And from the
standpoint of the labour theory of value, the ultimately relevant
aspect of technological change is its effect on the total
labour-time required for producing the various commodities. Why
are computers much cheaper in real terms than they were 20 or 10
years ago? Why did air travel become much cheaper with the
development of the high-bypass turbofan engine? It's not rocket

Consumers' preferences play the role of determining the quantities
of the various goods produced. When computers become very much
cheaper (a fact which has in itself nothing to do with
preferences), do people want a lot more of them (elastic demand)
or not?

Allin Cottrell

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Received on Fri Apr 3 22:12:59 2009

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