Re: (OPE-L) Re: Dynamic value and natural price

From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK)
Date: Tue Nov 04 2003 - 07:05:23 EST

Philip Dunn wrote: Hi Jerry

> Yes. it is certainly necessary to make the distinction between productive and
> unproductive labour.  But I look at all private sector labour as productive.
> Whereever there is profit there is productive labour.  So checkout workers in
> the supermarket are productive, as are banking workers, lawyers, passenger
> transport workers, etc.  Also marketing and advertising expenses are genuine
> productive costs and not to be paid for out of profit.  I would regard the
> whole waged workforce of a firm as productive too. Clearly, payment by stock
> options would be an exception, I think.
> A lot of confusion over productive labour seems to be due to thinking that there
> is a need for a physical use-value to be produced.

You can if you want disregard the whole Smith/Marx theory of unproductive
labour, but I think that Smith was getting at something real, and that
Marx was trying to clarify what this was.

Smith was concerned with the problem of capital accumulation and whether
particular categories of labour contributed to this. Since in the end for
capital to accumulate it must have some material substratum there has
to be a connection between the accumulation of capital, with productive
labour defined in  connection with accumulation, and  the production of
physical commodities.

What Smith was concerned with was the 'Wealth of Nations', the accumulation
of capital on a national scale. This is the context in which the productivity
of labour has to be judged: does it contribute to increasing the national wealth
over time, or does it consume wealth that could be devoted to accumulation.
This can not be ascertained by simply looking at whether money changes
hands to purchase the labour. Instead one must look at the labour within
the process of extended reproduction.

> There does not seem to be
> one in banking, say.  But I would see the ordinary busines of banking as the
> joint production of two services: providing willing lenders for borrowers and
> reliable borrowers for lenders.

Look at the accounts of the banks and see what portion of the wage bill is met
out of bank charges. For the UK at least it is not enough to cover wages.
The wages are met out of  a portion of the interest payments charged.

> Phil

Paul Cockshott
Dept Computing Science
University of Glasgow

0141 330 3125

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