[OPE-L:3525] RE: Productive and Unproductive Labour

andrew kliman (Andrew_Kliman@msn.com)
Fri, 25 Oct 1996 04:51:27 -0700 (PDT)

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In reply to Simon's ope-l 3516:

We're now agreed that the "l" vector in the value equations is living labor
per unit of output. I think the same is true of the "l" vector in the price
of production (POP) equations. Simon now says that the latter "refers to
hours of labour which the capitalist has hired and has paid for at the going
wage. Surely that's what one means by the (labour) cost of production?"

First, I don't think capitalist firms hire labor or pay for labor. I think
they hire labor-power, and often pay for it by the hour. What the ideologues
call "labor costs" are really labor-power costs; what they call labor markets
are really labor-power markets.

This may seem uselessly pedantic. It other contexts it might be, but the
problem here is precisely that the POP equations, because of their non-Marxist
origin, use the same "l" to indicate the commodity that the firm buys in the
market and the human activity needed to produce things. So they falsely
represent the real relations by making it seem as if a wage were paid for the
performance of the activity.

The reason I insist that the "l" in the POP equations is a vector of amounts
of living *labor* requirements per unit of output is that the same "l" is used
when talking about techniques of production. For instance, Pasinetti's
_Lectures on the Theory of Production_ represents this vector (which he calls
a_n) as the last row of the input/output matrix A (p. 60, p. 72) and calls its
elements "coefficients of production" (p. 51). Speaking of the Sraffa system,
he writes "Wages are distributed in proportion to the physical quantity of
labor which has been contributed" (p. 72). On p. 73 and thereafter, he
proceeds to postmultiply "l" (or a_n) by the wage rate.

This procedure is not peculiar to Pasinetti. This is the standard treatment
of the matter. I was reading Dumenil/Levy's book on the profit rate today ---
they do the same as Pasinetti.

I did not understand the following: "I would prefer to say that V is the
value of labour-power per hour of labour hired multiplied by the number of
hours of labour-power hired. When V is multiplied by the value of money it is
then the total wage bill. But this is a different conception of the monetary
expression of value, the inverse of the value of money. I think it is defined
by Andrew's equation above. I think that Andrew defines it differently."
Could you explain this please, Simon?

Andrew Kliman