[OPE-L] Re: Persistence of value

Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Mon, 26 Jan 1998 08:29:58 -0500 (EST)

Paul C wrote on Mon, 26 Jan:

> Are you saying that the company sector can increase its share of
> national
> income through advertising at the expense of employees?
> I do not see how this can be the case.
> Advertising can not raise demand of wage earners as a whole above the
> level
> set by the aggregate wage. If wages rose there would be an immediate
> reduction
> in profits due to higher costs.

What I am saying is that advertising by firms can create a larger demand
for certain commodities and can allow those firms to successfully charge
higher prices. If those commodities are destined to be consumed by
working-class families then this process in which commodities can be sold
at a price above their value will result in a _de facto_ reduction in real
wages and a redistribution of income away from the working-class. I.e.
the same amount of money is now able to obtain less commodities in the
market because of the effect of advertising. (if you want an example,
think of the price of sneakers!).

> When dealing
> with the economy as a whole, aggregate demand is set by
> wages * ( 1 - savings ratio) +
> investment +
> rentiers consumption

... and wages can be reduced via the above mechanism.

> there is no way that advertising within a particular branch can affect
> this.
> All it can do is alter the division of the value product between
> industries.

An assertion which may correspond to Marx, but is problematic when we
consider the question at a lower level of abstraction.

> Yes, Hitler pointed this out in justification for his proposal to build
> the Volkswagen. He said something like, ' all industrial products start
> out as luxuries for the rich and then become necessities for the
> population
> as a whole '.

I think Marx pointed to a similar mechanism in the _Grundrisse_.

In solidarity, Jerry