[OPE-L:2891] Questions to Patrick

John Ernst (ernst@nyc.pipeline.com)
Tue, 27 Aug 1996 18:43:11 -0700 (PDT)

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To clear matters up a bit before we traverse the in's and out's of
the Cambridge controversy, it would be helpful if I were a little
clearer on your understanding of technical change in Marx.

You wrote:

I've always understood technological change in Marx's economics to be
by the competition of capitals and the desire to increase relative surplus
value. Specifically, if we take the length of the workday, the intensity of

labor, and the wage rate as fixed there is still a powerful incentive to
increase technological improvements as a means of reducing unit cost. The
costs of higher levels of fixed capital investment are recouped by a firm's

increased market share, which it obtains by having lower unit lower cost
to its technological advantage.

I respond:

1. I am not entirely clear on what you mean by "recouped." That is, do the

capitalists with the "costs of higher levels of fixed capital" obtain
a higher or lower rate of profit than they did prior to the
change in technique?

2. Are the increases in fixed costs greater or less than the growth in
in output?

3. Is the wage rate measured in real terms?