[OPE-L:111] [OPE-L:347] Re: Re: Re: working-class savings

Ajit Sinha (ecas@cc.newcastle.edu.au)
Thu, 19 Nov 1998 19:42:08 +1100

At 06:42 18/11/98 -0500, you wrote:
>Thanks for the reference, Ajit. However, when you write --
>> <snip> All these variables are determined in the
>> historical class struggle. Marx's point is not that an individual worker
>> cannot save at any given point in time. His basic point is that for the
>> working class as a whole there cannot be persistent positive saving, i.e.
>> the working class cannot go on bequeathing property from one generation to
>> another. If the working class as a whole could go on saving persistently,
>> then, in the long run, they would not remain the propertyless proletariats,
>> and the whole basis of the capitalist mode of production would collapse.
>> Thus, the assumption that workers consume all the wages is a sound
>> assumption in Marx's theoretical system.
>I think you misunderstand my question(s). I was not asking whether Marx
>assumed that workers' savings = -0-. I was asking, instead, for any
>references written by Marxists in which workers' savings were > -0-.
>You raise the question of whether, over the long-run, the inheritance of
>workers' savings can lead to a change in class membership. I think you
>raise a valid point, *but* workers' savings doesn't have to be large
>enough per family or a large amount of inheritance/family for it to be
>important for the macroeconomy. After all, we're talking about savings
>by 80% (or so) of families. Even if that doesn't break-down to much money
>per family in relationship to savings per bourgeois family, the total
>amount saved would be important to the macroeconomy. Also, it would be
>important to the individual working-class families. Suppose a significant
>percentage of an individual working-class family income (let's say 20%) is
>derived from interest. Under those circumstances then if they are
>receiving less interest with the same amount saved, then their total
>income has gone down, ceteris paribus. Before someone considers this to
>be a marginal case, consider the elderly who in many countries have over
>the course of a lifetime saved a substantial amount of money. Indeed, in
>many countries they *have* to save some money to be able to pay for
>medical bills, nursing, housing, and burial when they are older. In Japan,
>for instance, there aren't generally pensions and instead a worker is
>given a one-time "golden parachute" of sorts (in practice, this generally
>means that the elderly family members often become more reliant on their
>children or other relatives). Thus, by the time many (most?) of these
>former workers die their savings will have either been greatly eroded or
>completely disappeared. There isn't therefore generally what you call
>"persistent positive saving" (as you define it above).
>Thus, on the level of concretion where we are examining an advanced
>capitalist economy in the period of late capitalism, we have to consider
>the effect of savings by working-class families. This would be the case
>regardless of what Marx wrote or did not write. Do you agree?
>In solidarity, Jerry

I think your point has validity in short term macro context. Real life time
standard of living for the working class is not rigidly defined, and a
change in interest rate can have some impact on the working class standard
of living.

It seems Massimo and I are close on this aspect of Marx's theory. Cheers,
ajit sinha