[OPE-L:5603] [MIKE W] Re: Luxury Goods and Profit Rate

Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Thu, 9 Oct 1997 07:56:59 -0400 (EDT)

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>From mwilliam@torres.mk.dmu.ac.uk Thu Oct 9 02:44:36 1997

Sorrow to pick up butt-ends, but I haven't time top do anything else.
In the midst of an interesting conversation [?!] with Alejandro,
Andrew said:

> BTW, air is not only produced, it is also a BASIC commodity. What
> can be produced *without* air as an input?

As Andrew has eloquently argued, a set of formal models is
indifferent to the interpretations put upon it. And to circumscribe
the interpretations to meanings for which we wish to argue, requires
the location of the models - during their construction and evolution
in an adequate conceptual structure. (btw, I think Duncan and others
are pointing at the same methodological imperative when they insist on
asking 'economically meaningful' questions with any statistical

Well - air may be a basic input, but it is not a commodity, basic or
non-basic (not having been produced with a view to selling, their
being no defensible property rights etc.). So if our formalisms are to
be (potentially representational) models, they must not allow air
(etc) to be treated as a commodity.

I cannot remember whether Sraffa provided his own definition of
'commodity' (or allowed one to emerge from his argument), or whether
he used this key category in a general sense - in which case his book
should have been called 'The production of things by means of things'

Dr Michael Williams
"Books are Weapons"

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