[OPE-L:3833] Re: productive and unproductive labour

Chai-on Le (conlee@chonnam.chonnam.ac.kr)
Sun, 15 Dec 1996 21:07:18 -0800 (PST)

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Jerry in [3829] wrote:

>Wage-payments for unproductive labour can be paid for by: a) capital; b)
>the state; c) consumers.

>a) If paid by capital, there is the remaining question regarding whether
>unproductive labour costs are paid out of v, c, and/or s.
If paid by capital, the capitalists must directly pay to the unproductive labor.
The payment is made only when the case occurs. So, like fire, it is paid out
of s, I argue. This is only because of its occasional, irregular character.
It it is paid indirectly through the workers, it is paid out of the v. The
cost should have been used for other consumption by the workers if it did
not happen.

>or they are added-on to the cost of v. Regarding the
>latter possibility, the money capital allocated for the employment of
>productive wage-labour not only includes wages but also the monetary cost
>of benefits accruing to those workers. Health care, as one type of
>benefit, could then be added on to the wage cost and, in so doing, the
>cultural and "moral" component of the wage would be redefined and
>increased. In either case (an increase in v or a decrease in s),
>profitability would be decreased.

If it is added on to the v, the health cost must be of a regular character.
Yes, when the health insurance cost is regularly deducted from the salary.
Then it must be a part of the v. Occasional, irregular payment from the
wagee arnings is to be seen like a loss for the workers (as a misfortune),
which cannot be allotted as a normal cost of labor-reproduction.

>However, the above scenario can get messier (unfortunately) in practice
>when capitalists (increasingly) attempt to shift part of the costs of
>health care to wage-earners by making workers pay for some portion of the
>health care that they receive (or, in extremis, shifting the entire cost
>of health care to workers).

Then, the workers must receive more wages for the health allowance. If some
workers are healthy, then their individual income naturally grows. If other
workers are weaker than the average, it must become a misfortune. Their
wages virtually decreased.

>major goals of the "concessions movement" that began in the 1980's. In
>such a case, part of the costs for health care would be paid by capital
>and part would be paid by workers as a deduction out of wages.

Yes, exactly.

>b) Health care, in some capitalist nations, is a *right* and is provided
>by the state either through nationalized health care (where health care
>employees are employed by the state) or through provide providers (but
>where the cost of those services is then paid for by the state). The
>question, then, is: who pays for these state expenditures? This varies
>according to the nation and tax system that one is talking
>about. This cost could be borne by capitalists (if the taxes are levied
>against corporations) or wage-earners (where they are special taxes levied
>against wage-earners) and/or citizens in general (the "public"). In
>practice, there is frequently some combination of the above. For instance,
>in the US, social security payments and unemployment compensation are
>partially paid by employers and partially financed by a deduction
>(transfer) from wages.

We do not need to identify the exact source in this case. The whole society
collectively pays for it. Individual misfortunes are shifted onto the whole

>c) In other cases, the costs of health care are paid by consumers. Of
>course, this was the norm before trade unions, in different
>countries, fought successfully for either health care to be paid out as a
>benefit by capitalists (a) or provided by the state (b).

At that time, individual misfortunes are entirely borne privately by the
concerned. It was an extremely private society.
Faux frais de production is translated into a social overhead cost. Health
expenditures may be treated as such (or may not be treated as such). Yet, an
epidemic is surely a social overhead cost.

>> (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.
>Here is where we differ, I think. In what sense can "repairing labor" be
>understood as a component part of constant capital?

The repairing costs are a part of the maintenance cost of the production
facilities, which goes into a part of Fixed capital. The fixed capital,
whether it is paid directly by labor or not, cannot form the category of
v+s. Direct labors performed on the labor-object (not on the instrument of
that work) can make the v+s category.

>> (even Russian people might have paid in
>> part the indirect taxes for the products US workers consumed).
>How so?

The indirect taxes are reflected on the cost price of all products of US.
Although the US products are exported without tax, the indirect taxes
included in the production cost are to be paid by the importing nation. The
point is it is not the final consumers only that pay for the indirect taxes.
The indirect taxes are paid by the whole commodity world. The pure
circulation costs are the same with this.

>> In conclusion, contemporary capitalism has converged the above four
>> categories only to two ones, (2) and (4).

(1) and (3) are social overhead costs but have been paid in part by
particular individuals. Private expenses are soly for private costs. But (1)
and (3) are of a public character in part.

In solidarity, Chai-on