[OPE-L:4643] Re: Skilled labor, obselescence and value

Michael Perelma (michael@ecst.csuchico.edu)
Wed, 2 Apr 1997 08:47:30 -0800 (PST)

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Let me take Jerry's horseshoe idea farther. Suppose that polo suddenly
becomes fashionable for the middle class. Now the same training has more

My point is that the valuation of abstract labor takes place at the level
of prices. Try another hypothetical example. Suppose that you had an
economy where training is distributed randomly by type of training -- a
random amount for horseshoing, another random amount for computer
programming. How do you determine which skills are obsolete? By the

I do no push this idea to say that we have an absolute value
"transformation problem" but to say that we can only take the quantative
idea of value theory so far. Here is where I differ from Duncan and his
call for graduate students to do empirical papers.

We can do empirical work, but it is more limited than we recognize. I
appreciate Fred M's study of unproductive labor. It serves a useful
function, but we must understand that it probably has a one digit level of
exactitude, as Norbert Wiener once said of economics in general.

I have pushed my skepticism about quantitative marxism enough -- I must
have written this a dozen times, so I should probably drop it here.
Michael Perelman
Economics Department
California State University
Chico, CA 95929

Tel. 916-898-5321
E-Mail michael@ecst.csuchico.edu