Re: costs of unproductive labor

Paul Cockshott (wpc@CS.STRATH.AC.UK)
Fri, 23 Jan 1998 10:24:52 -0000

> Variable capital is "capital". But where is it gone now in Paul's
> ?
> If the total capital stock consists as you say of
> > Plant and equipment
> > Stocks of raw materials in the hands of manufacturers
> > Stocks of work in progress
> > Stocks of finished goods in the wholesale and retail sector.
> Then what's happened to the money capital that is used to pay wages, the
> money that functions as variable capital ?
There is no stock of variable capital. The variable capital is essentially
a flow quantity in the NI accounts.

> When I talked about the "stock"
> of variable capital, I was referring to the average money capital that
> be kept on hand to pay wages during the year, a sum typically very much
> less than the annual expenditure I would imagine, and which might well be
> related (in the case of manufacturing) to the number of production cycles
> during the year, since at some point the capital outlaid on wages is
> recouped from current income.

This 'money capital' does not exist as a value stock except in econmies
that use bullion as currency. One must distinguish between real value
which demands labour to create it, and credit lines that employers may
have with the banking system. The latter can be created with a few
computer keystrokes, and withdrawn as readily. Within the national
economy as a whole they do not constitute a stock of value.

> Presumably Paul is arguing that (1) the employer gets wage-labour "on
> credit",

As Riccardo has argued, employers as a whole purchase their wage labour
using credit lines from the banking system. When analysed from the
of the national economy as a whole, the employing class obtains wage
labour for nothing