chaion lee (conlee@chonnam.chonnam.ac.kr)
Thu, 30 Nov 1995 06:31:08 -0800

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Re: Value-creating power,

In regard to Paul Cockshott [ope-l:594];

I think Iwao just made a minor slip in saying that training and education
costs are transferred to the value of labor power, not to the value of labor.
I should revise it into that training and education costs are transferred to
the value of labor power, not to the value of labor-power. If he consent to
this, I agree with his position. The reason is as follows.

1. The "value-creating power" of skilled labor is just a use-value of the
labour-power. The training cost is a part of the production cost of the
skill, and the production cost has nothing to do with its *use-value* (= the
value-creating power) but only with its *exchange-value* (the wage rate of
the skilled labor-power).

2. In Paul's example of a software project. He says "The time they (his
employees) spend reading the manuals and practicing with the system is a
necessary part of the total time spent on the product." Paul, do you
include all the time they spend for their own cooking, washing, cleaning,
etc. in the socially necessary time for the product? Or do you include only
the time for which you pecuniarily paid for? Or plus self-learning racking
their brains at home night times? To discuss this in detail, we have to
discuss in the first place how to measure or determine the amount of
indirect labor time in the magnitude of ordinary commodity values if we are
to be consistent. But I think we shall go to such discussions together
some time later. At the moment, I put my own conclusion in advance. In
the time, I include only the pecuniarily paid labour-time. And this does not
enter into the value of output which they produce after being trained. This
is because the output value rests on the value-creating power of their labor
(the use-value of their skill), rather than the value of their labor-power
(the production cost of their skill). Only the monetary-incurred cost of the
skill can enter into the value of the skill, however. Holidays in the
Mediterranean, if it is socially necessary and pecuniarily paid, is also to be
taken into account.

3. By analogy, let us compare a fixed capital (a machine) with the skill as
you explained in the last para in [ope-l:594]. Skill itself corresponds to a
machine. The indirect labours expended for the skill-building correspond to
the labors expended for the production of the machine. The value of the
skilled labor-power (we call "a") corresponds to the value of the machine
(we call "A"). The (indirect) labor stored up in the skill (we call "b")
corresponds to the labour that produced the machine (we call "B"). The
value produced by the skilled labor (we call "c") corresponds to the value
produced by the machine (we call "C").
In the case of machine, "A" is determined by "B", and is transferred to
"C" not once and for all but bit by bit. In the same manner, we might
say, "a" is determined by "b", and is transferred to "c" and yet in the
proportion of (1+e) where e is the rate of exploitation. Three problems are
involved here. Firstly, it is not correct to say that "a" is determined by
"b". "a" is determined by reference to "b". "A" is a stock value, but "a"
is a flow value. "b" cannot be recovered at a shot by "a". Secondly, the
magnitude of "B" is not the actual amount of labor historically expended.
Its devaluation, its moral and physical depreciation, or appreciation can act
major roles in estimating the "B". "B" is measured or estimated by the
replacement cost of the machine in its current market value. The same can
be said of "b". The actual labour amount in building the skill is not bound
up in the amount of "b". Thirdly, a partition of "B" can be made. One is
the paid part of "B", the other is the unpaid part of "B". The latter is
appropriated by the capitalist that produces the machine as the surplus
value, (not appropriated by the capitalist that uses the machine to produce
other commodity). In the case of "b", the self learning labor of the student,
the paid part of his teacher's labor, the unpaid part of his teacher's labor
(appropriated by the school master as surplus value) constitute it. Among
the three, the unpaid part including the student's self learning labor should
not be appropriated by the capitalist that uses the skilled labor to produce
other commodity. In the same manner, housewife's domestic labor, too is
not exploited by the capitalist who employs her husband.

4. You take two examples, one is the education of the employee and the
other the employment of an already educated. One is to produce a machine
before using the machine to produce other commodity. The other is simply
to buy the machine on the market and then use it to produce other
commodity. In terms of efficiency, the latter might be preferred. I do not
think the two cases are equally efficient.

Any discussions?


Chai-on Lee.