[OPE-L:817] Re: Digression (Wages)

John R. Ernst (ernst@pipeline.com)
Fri, 19 Jan 1996 18:13:24 -0800

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On Fri, 19 Jan 1996 wpc@clyder.gn.apc.org (Paul Cockshott) said:

>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.
>Do you have any evidence at all for this, or is it a hypothesis
>on the level that I might just be the rightful heir to the
>Russian throne.

John now says:

Having lived in certain areas of the U.S., I have observed that
the consumption patterns of the two groups might well differ.
For that matter, the patterns of all workers do indeed differ.
Thus, the point I was making is that by treating the wage for
all workers as a "wage basket" and then assigning workers
a portion of that wage based on hours worked seems like
a large assumption. Foley's idea of treating the wage as
money sounds better than this as it gets around the problem
of determining rates of exploitation on the basis of consumption
patterns. Further, it strikes me as odd that in the transformation
literature, often critical of Marx, his assumption generally goes
unremarked as the critics define V as a basket of consumption