Re: [OPE] The waste in US health care

From: Gerald Levy <>
Date: Tue Oct 27 2009 - 09:29:36 EDT

> one can also say that the 'waste' occurs just because the law of value
> operates there.
> The waste occurs everywhere. Is for example unemployment waste of
> humanity's resources?

Hi Dogan and Jurriaan:

Well, yes, viewed at from a number of perspectives, unemployment could be
wasteful. This can be theorized, though, without reference to the law of
value. For
instance, marginalist theory recognizes that waste will occur whenever and
'factors of production' are not fully and efficiently utilized.

Jurriaan had asked whether the law of value really operates in the US health
care system.
He offered the following answer: "I suppose in a macabre way, it does,
although mediated
by monopolists."

Rather than asserting that the law of value operates in a distorted or
modified way in this
sector, one could claim that there are branches of production - such as the
pharmaceutical industry - in which the law of value is essentially
'suspended' (i.e. not
currently at work).

One has to recall the extent to which there is concentration (Marx and
Marxists would
probably say centralization of capital) in this industry. The very small
of huge, multinational firms which dominate this branch of production - in
part, because of product differentiation and propritary rights to particular
medications -
have (especially in the US - because of the lack of state controls on
pricing by
these oligopolies) the ability to set the price in the same way that
monopolies are
able to set prices. If you want to grasp this dynamic you have to look
beyond the
law of value to rent.

It is true that there are limits - as Jurriaan noted - to how high these
oligopilies can
mark up prices. These limits, though, can also be theorized without
reference to
the law of value. For instance, marginalists might try to calculate the
elasticity of demand for a particular commodity.

In solidarity, Jerry

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Received on Tue Oct 27 09:39:44 2009

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