[OPE-L:3338] Re: TSS and value added

Duncan K. Fole (dkf2@columbia.edu)
Thu, 10 Oct 1996 10:38:09 -0700 (PDT)

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A few comments on John's [OPE-L:3313]:

I've said quite a bit on the "money value added" issues in my replies to
Fred and Andrew, so I'll let that rest.

I hope we can continue the discussion about patterns of technical change at
the micro and macro level, which opens up some new and potentially very
important issues.

>John says:
>Ideally, I'd like to look at an individual capitalists making an
>investment. I do think examples of capital-using tech change
>can be found. For example, the mechanized tomato picker
>certainly is a case of dead labor replacing living labor. (ugh,
>square tomatoes) But I think this is the exception and not the
>rule in the capitalism of today.

How could we find out which is the exception and the rule methodologically?
I suggested looking at I/O data, which might not settle the issue, but
would at least be a step forward. Is there any other type of data that we
could use to survey the distribution of technical changes? How about the
establishment level data in the Annual Survey of Manufactures?

>Duncan, in OPE-3211, says:
>Of course, Marx can't really tell us anything about the empirical pattern
>of technical change after 1883 when he died.
>John responds:
>Hmmmmmm. I'd better agree that he can't tell us about the data of
>today or I'd be going beyond Marxology itself. But, let's consider
>what he said in CAPITAL. Here, we are dealing with his theory of
>technical change.
>a. In the chapter titled "Co-Operation" in Vol I, Ch 13, Marx
>essentially maintains that by increasing inputs, outputs are
>also increased.

This seems to be the general definition of technical progress, but not to
take any position on its biases or patterns.

>b. In the next chapter concerning the division of labor, we
>see labor inputs increasing but outputs increasing at a
>greater rate.

This confirms one-half of the concept of "Marx-biased technical change,
which, recall, is a combination of labor-augmenting and capital-using
technical progress. This is the labor-augmenting part, as I read it.

>c. As machinery or "dead labor" replaces living labor in Ch 15,
>we see that that "dead labor" may increase faster than outputs as
>there was little "dead labor" functioning as machinery when the
>transition to the period of large-scale industry begins.

This is the other half of the "Marx bias", capital-using.

>Overall, should we be able to find data to support the proposition
>that rate of profit falls today because of capital-using technical
>change, we would be refuting notion of accumulation in the period
>of large scale industry.

I'm not sure I follow your reasoning here. The pattern of technical change
is conceptually different from the patterns of aggregate accumulation.


Duncan K. Foley
Department of Economics
Barnard College
New York, NY 10027
fax: (212)-854-8947
e-mail: dkf2@columbia.edu