[OPE-L:3832] Re: productive and unproductive labour (continued)

Ian Hun (Ian.Hunt@flinders.edu.au)
Sun, 15 Dec 1996 16:53:49 -0800 (PST)

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>There seems no disagreement in regard to the benefits of unproductive labor.
>As for its costs, however, there is little agreement. From whom and from
>where is the wagepayment for the unproductive labors levyed? IMO, there
>should be four distinct kinds of unproductive labor as far as the payment is
> (1) Payment from individual consumption funds: family doctors whose direct
>benefits accrue to the individuals (in an exclusive manner). But national
>health service has categorized this as a social insurance cost. It is paid
>in part by the society and in part by the immediate benefiters.
> (2) Payment from constant capital funds: repairing and maintenance cost (a
>normal production cost). Repairing labor is a necessary, normal cost in some
>aspect but cannot produce surplus value, and so its wage payment is
>categorized as a material, constant capital.
> (3) Payment from surplus-values: repairing and maintenance cost (abnormal
>production cost, fire, earthquake, robbery, etc. (NB: contemporary
>capitalism has developed a mechanism to transform this into a normal
>production cost, since they categorizes it as an INSURANCE COST and pass it
>onto the consumers).
> (4) Payment from unspecific individual incomes: pure circulation cost,
>nobody is willing to pay this but it is paid anyway. Like indirect taxes, it
>is paid by nobody but it is paid finally. Direct taxes are paid from
>individual incomes, but indirect taxes are paid from unspecific (natural
>and/or juristic) individual incomes (even Russian people might have paid in
>part the indirect taxes for the products US workers consumed). Commercial
>labors are the typical case of this category. Upto the amount of this cost,
>firms are able to mark-up the price of the commodities they sell, which
>creates a deviation between real value and nominal value in the whole
>society. (for this explanation, we posit the measure of value or the unit of
>labor account is variant).
>In conclusion, contemporary capitalism has converged the above four
>categories only to two ones, (2) and (4).
>I am looking forward to your opinion.
>In solidarity,

I have some difficulty with Chai-on's categories of "unproductive labour".
I am happy to take Marx's definition of it, which is labour unproductive
of surplus value.
In this sense, family doctors (small farmers, or any self-employed person
whi is not exploited by capitalists) would count as unproductive. They sell
a service which is paid for in the same way as any service is (out of
consumption funds, as Chai-on says).
The there are employees who do not work for profit, such as public hospital
employees, etc, and employers who work for profit but arguably do not
produce capitalist surplus value, in Marx's sense (employees of banks,
advertising agencies etc).
Provision for labourers to deal with breakdown, maintenance, etc of
machines is part of variable capital and is just as much productive
expenditure as provision for operatives. Provision of "maintenance" for
workers is part of expenditure on variable capital and is productive when
those workers are productive.
The effect of unproductive labour is to decrease the turnover of
capital (that is, it imposes a requirement for a larger capital fund to
produce a given flow of value)