[OPE-L:3284] Re: Marxian Emprical Research / Skilled labor & surplus value

Steve Keen (s.keen@uws.edu.au)
Fri, 4 Oct 1996 23:23:35 -0700 (PDT)

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To Iwao's question:
>Is training a production of use value that adds value creating power to simple >labor-power or just adds (transfers) its value to labor-power?

Allin answered:

|I go for [2]. "Adding value-creating power to simple
|labour-power" seems to make "value-creation" into a strange
|metaphysical process. What matters is the _total_ direct
|plus indirect labour-time required to produce things. If
|the production of X requires specially trained labour, one
|has to count the indirect contribution of both the teacher
|and the trainee expended in acquiring the skill, besides the
|direct labour-time of the skilled worker.

Allin's is the dominant interpretation historically, but analytically,
it amounts to what Jerry recently described in words like "taking your
eyes off the main game of use-value and exchange-value". At a bald
level, it does appear logical to say that the training of skilled labor
doesn't add to the value-creating power of simple labor because such a
statement appears "metaphysical". But if you read Hilferding *carefully*
(and most people haven't!) you will see that he supports the first of
Iwao's alternatives, using the concepts of use-value and exchange-value.

Hilferding's argument was developed to counter Bohm-Bawerk's criticism
of the LTV that "`an hour of skilled labor contains several hours of
unskilled labor'", but if the labor which went into educating a workman
simply reappeared in the product, then "there could only be actually
five hours of unskilled labor in one hour of skilled labor, if four
hours of preparatory labor went into every hour of skilled labor"
(B”hm-Bawerk 1896, pp. 84-85).

Hilferding countered that "The labor of the technical educator thus
transmits, not only
value (which manifests itself in the form of a higher wage), but in
addition its own value-creating power... training "creates on the one
hand new value and transmits on the other to its product its
use-value--to be the source of new value." (ibid., p. 145).

Thus training increases the exchange-value of skilled labor (it costs
more to produce) and its use-value--it makes it more productive. There
is thus no fixed relation between the cost of education and the ability
to create additional value it imparts, and hence training can be a
source of additional surplus value.

This treatment of the exchange-value and use-value of skilled labor is
completely consonant with Marx's treatment of the exchange-value and
use-value of simple labor in Capital I, and it reaches the same
conclusion: that the difference between the exchange-value of (skilled)
labor and its use-value can be a source of surplus-value.

Steve Keen