(OPE-L) Re: Unproductive Labour

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Sun Nov 23 2003 - 09:42:54 EST

> The big picture for me is that if services such as retailing,
> transport, finance, advertising etc. are treated as unproductive, and
> they form an increasing proportion of the economy, labour in the
> productive manufacturing fraction has to be exploited at an ever
> increasing rate in order to account for undiminished non-wage income.
> I do  not think this is for real.

Phil,  thanks for describing what you see as "the big picture".   Now I
have a much better idea of  (to use a popular expression) where you're
coming from.

Two brief responses:

(1) Whether this is "real" is a question that can be addressed empirically.
There have been a bunch of empirical studies, using national income
accounts, that have concluded that there _has_ been a long-term growth
of unproductive labour as a percentage of total wage-labour.  We are
lucky to have most of the authors of those studies on this list so I'll
leave it to them (should they choose) to explain those studies.

(2) To comprehend "the big picture" I think you need to examine
the process of capitalist competition and the transfer of surplus value
among capitalist firms.  One also needs to comprehend how rent
comes into this picture. These are Volume III topics.

I strongly encourage you to read Volume III.  After you have
done so, you will gain a new appreciation of Volumes I and II.
I've got an idea:  why don't you start reading Volume III and if you
have any questions as you proceed with the reading, you can ask
us?  Be forewarned, though:  almost certainly you'd get multiple
conflicting explanations.  Still, it would make the reading more
interactive and hence less of an isolated experience for you,
you'd be getting feedback from other knowledgeable comrades
as you proceed, and the discussion would probably be of interest
to others.  Think about it.

In solidarity, Jerry

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