[OPE-L:803] Digression (Wages)

John R. Ernst (ernst@pipeline.com)
Thu, 18 Jan 1996 03:32:54 -0800

[ show plain text ]


In presenting his view of Duncan's and Gerard's work, Alan


A logical completion is to recognize that the portion of the value-
product appropriated by the worker (variable capital, V) is equal to
the price of wage-goods, not their value: to put this precisely, V is
equal to the value of the money used to pay the wage. If I have not
misunderstood, this step is an essential part of the proposal of
Duncan and Gerard.


Clearly, Duncan is the best one to comment on the degree to which
this is "a logical completion" of his work. For now, I will assume
it is and further assume that someone somewhere remains unconvinced.
Where might the idea that V is equal to the labor embodied in the
goods consumed by workers lead?

In the U.S., we often see studies showing that Afro-Americans have
lower wages than whites. However, if the consumption of the former
group is different than that of the latter, then it may well be that
capitalists garner more surplus value from white workers than from
Afro-Americans since the labor embodied in the goods whites consume
may be far less than that consumed by Afro-Americans. The whites
may well be the super-exploited as they consume less embodied labor.
This would be a weird result of any progressive theory and hardly
an acceptable part of a Marxian program. Yet, with embodied labor
values, it is a possibility.