Re: costs of unproductive labor

jurriaan bendien (
Wed, 21 Jan 1998 23:26:05 +0100

In response to Paul:

I think it's useful to distinguish, as SNA does, between different sorts of
accounts, like the product account, the income and outlay account, the
capital account and so on.
The dispute concerning expenditure on unproductive labour concerns the
question of whether this expenditure should be accounted for in the value
of the product (c+v+s) as a component of new surplus-value created or as a
component of constant capital used up (transferred value). For the purpose
of calculating the true general profit rate, we need to estimate the stock
of circulating capital, in its variable and constant components (and in
constant components I suggested we include expenditure on unproductive
labour). The difficulty is, although some information is available on
inventories of raw materials etc., how do you estimate "stock levels" of
the capital tied up in wages, what sorts of assumptions do you make, for
example about production periods, stock rotations and turnovers. We know
for instance that generally speaking employers do not tie up (hold in
reserve) the entire annual expenditure of wages, this expenditure is
partially recouped from current income. We can also get an idea of
turnovers (stock rotations) by dividing intermediate consumption by the
average stock level during the year. Most writers avoid the problem
altogether though and simply calculate profit rates as the ratio of surplus
value to the value of fixed capital assets (given that normally the outlay
on fixed capital dwarfs the outlay on wages or inventories).



> From: Paul Cockshott <wpc@CS.STRATH.AC.UK>
> To:
> Subject: Re: costs of unproductive labor
> Date: Wednesday, January 21, 1998 10:01 AM
> >
> > If you do accept a distinction between unproductive and productive
> > in a capitalist enterprise, which I do not think is ultimately
> I
> > think the best way of dealing with the "costs of unproductive labour"
> to
> > use the distinction between capital stocks and and flows, including the
> > costs of unproductive labour in the stock of capital required to
> a
> > given flow of productively used variable and constant capital, so that
> the
> > presence of "costs of unproductive labour" shows up as an increase in
> the
> > turnover period of capital, and thus as depressing the rate of profit.
> This
> > would avoid confusion between such wage costs and variable capital (but
> > without, in turn, confusing such costs with constant capital) and also
> get
> > the requirement that such costs reduce the rate of profit.
> This is incoherent at the most basic accounting level. The figure in the
> for unproductive labour will be in million dollars per annum, as such
> this can not be a stock.