[OPE-L:6333] Historical, real and current costs

Sun, 22 Mar 1998 11:11:53

Re the PIAF:

> Date: Sat, 21 Mar 1998 15:55:49 -0500 (est)
> From: Gerald Levy <glevy@pratt.edu>
> To: Multiple recipients of list <ope-l@galaxy.csuchico.edu>
> Subject: [OPE-L] Re: Historical, real and current costs

> > > I think that the "time delay" issue is a dodge.
> > Does "dodge" mean "clever trick"?
> No, not "clever trick".
> In the context in which I wrote it above, you can interpret it as
> "to elude or evade by a sudden shift of position or by strategy."
> (from _The Random House Dictionary of the English Language_).

In my Dictionary, there is also this meaning, but it''s not clear to
me what is being "eluded" or "evaded". Could you please explain?

> > The point is Marx's distinction between "production time" and
> > "working time". Do you think this distinction make sense?
> In Marx, yes.

Well. What is the meaning of it?
What doesn''t this distinction make sense in Andrew''s example?
I think you are rejecting the problem posed by Andrew only due to the
formal features of his example (the "corn model"). But, what would
happen if the example is reformulated in terms of a multiproduct

Coming to our original point, I''m noting that you are not
longer insisting in the idea that in Andrew''s example "the Sun
creates value". Am I right?

> > Sure. But in that case we don't have an example adequate to deal
> > with the distinction we (at least I!) are interested in: the
> > distinction between production time and working time. You would
> > have an example in which production time = working time, i.e.
> > you don't have examples similar to those presented by Marx in
> > the above cited chapter.
> Again I challenge your assertion that Andrews example was similar to
> those presented by Marx in V2. To support that contention, you
> should be able to show me at least one example in that chapter
> where Marx employed the same (or similar) assumptions and
> specified the problem in the manner that Andrew did.


Let me put the matter in more precise terms: What Andrew is
proposing is to introduce, in a corn model, Marx''s distinction
between working time and production time. He took this distinction
from Capital II, Chapter 13, specifically from the examples we have
been discussing (so, he didn''t "invented" this). Certainly, he
didn''t take his whole example from Marx, but a decisive aspect. So,
this corn model differs from others (e.g. Duncan''s) in this respect.
This is the distinction between ther traditional "corn model" and the
"chunche model"!

I think Andrew is trying to present a *more concrete* "corn
model" precisely in order to, partially, overcome the criticisms
directed to such "models", because their highly abstract character.
He has chosen to drop the assumption that working time = production
time and exploring the effects on profit rate of a change in the MELT
in this *more concrete* analytical situation. I think this is
ingenious and stimulating and is in line with your criticisms
regarding "corn models". So, I don''t understand your negative
reaction. Andrew is saying: "Here I have a corn model, but look, I''m
droping an usual *implicit* assumption, that working time =
production time. Let us play with the numbers and see what happen if
we abandon this assumption." After seeing what happen in this
unrealistic "one commodity" economy (taking now into account the
difference between working time and production time), we can explore
the case of a multiproduct economy. What is wrong with this?

> For example, Marx was definately _not_ assuming a one-product
> economy in that chapter. Indeed, this distinction occurs because
> of the specific "nature of the product" and is most "particularly
> important in agriculture." It is consequently a distinction that
> does not arise because of the nature of capital-in-general but
> has importance only within individual branches of production
> within the context of a multi-product capitalist economy.
> Moreover, what does this vharacteristic, which arises due to the
> specific material character of the individual commodity being
> produced, have to do with the MELT which is determined at the
> level of the macroeconomy?


I think the last question shows that you are not really taking into
account Andrew''s exercise.

In my interpretation, what Andrew''s is proposing is to explore the
effects of a change in the MELT (that, as you say, it is determined
"at the level of the macroeconomy") on commodities having a working
time not equal to production time. As you surely can remember, Andrew
proposes an "exogenous" change in the MELT verified between 5 p.m.
and 9 p.m ("determined at macro leve"). Then he asks: how does this
change affect the calculation of the profit rate in a commodity in
which production time is not equal to working time? This is the
exercise, I think. He maintains that if we use only the end-of-period
MELT (prevailing at 9 p.m.), then the profit is negative. Are you
agree with this result?

Responding directly to your question:

"what does this characteristic, which arises due to the specific
material character of the individual commodity being produced, have
to do with the MELT which is determined at the level of the

This "characteristic" has nothing to do with the determination of the
MELT, but a change in the MELT (as proposed by Andrew) affects
differently (a) commodities having this "characteristic" (working time
not equal to production time) and (b) commodities in which working
time = production time. You are acknowdledging now that this kind of
commodities actually exists, so it seems to me a legitimate question
to ask how changes in the MELT affect them, and the profit rate
obtained in these activities. Frankly, I don''t see what is the

Andrew is proposing a modified "corn model" in which the commodity
has the "characteristic" in question, considering a change in the
MELT produced during the non-working time (but part of the production
time) and asking how the profit rate is calculated in such a case.

Jerry: Thanks for your comments. Next week I''ll be very busy, but
I would appreciate yours.