[OPE-L:4308] Re: MEL and determination of value by labor-time

Gerald Lev (glevy@pratt.edu)
Fri, 7 Mar 1997 09:25:51 -0800 (PST)

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Re: Ale R's [4303]: You suggest that it is "pathetic" that no one
responded to [4258]. Ale -- many on the list have raised topics for
discussion that haven't caught-on. It's happened to me -- many times. :-(
This should not be interpreted as being "pathetic." Rather, listmembers
may have been interested in other topics and/or otherwise engaged with
such minor matters as work, family, writing, political activism, life,
etc.. In any event, I wrote the following shortly after [4258] which
addressed one of your questions. I decided not to send it -- until now --
because I was waiting to read what others wrote on this subject line. This
is my short contribution -- before I get back to "extending Marx"
questions (although, I still owe Mike L a reply).

I'll take a mini-bite (not exactly in the direction you anticipated, but
..) ---

Alejandro R asked in [OPE-L:4258]:

> How does run the analysis
> in the opposite case: a very good harvest provokes a glut in
> grain market?

If we abstract from the material form of the commodities produced and
assume that the size of the working population remains constant, one would
think that grain would be sold below its money-value and the "other"
commodity would be sold above its money-value.

But ...

a) given that there has been an excess supply of grain, one might think
that the grain producers can have some level of unsold inventories of
grain. What happens to the value of grain as it physically deteriorates,
loses its use-value, and thereby its value? Is there any reason other than
by assumption to assume that the reduction in money-value of grain will be
compensated by an equal rise in the magnitude of money-value of the
"other" commodity?

For instance, let's say that 200 units of grain were produced
and offered for sale at their value -- $1/unit. Now, suppose that only
50 units of grain are demanded at $1/unit. Would it be safe to assume that
if the price of grain/unit dropped to .25, then all of the remaining grain
would be sold at that price? What if that was not the case? Presumably,
the unsold grain would be stored. Yet, at some point, the grain
deteriorates physically and no longer has _any_ value or exchange-value.
Now, how does this affect the money-value of the "other" commodity?

b) Suppose the same scenario as above. However, once the grain capitalists
realize that they have excess inventories of grain due to overproduction,
don't they cut back on production? As they cut back on supply while
attempting to sell the excess inventories, what happens to their demand
for labour-power? I would have to say that it drops (and, moreover, there
is no reason to assume that the demand for labour-power by the "other"
capitalists will increase by an equal measure). So, as the demand for
labour-power decreases, wouldn't we expect the demand for grain to further
decrease? I.e. now that the IRA has grown, workers have less available
income to spend on grain _and_ the "other" commodity. If that was the
case, then the demand for the "other" commodity might be expected to
decrease as well. This might then cause the "other" capitalists to have a
reduced demand for labour-power which would cause the IRA to grow still

Don't both a) and b) above suggest that value can be *destroyed* rather
than only redistributed?

In solidarity, Jerry