Re: (OPE-L) how simple is too simple?

From: Ian Wright (iwright@GMAIL.COM)
Date: Fri Jun 11 2004 - 12:18:45 EDT

Hi Jerry

> I think your analogies above are off-base and misleading.

I think that's a bit harsh. Assuming commodity types that only require
labour for their manufacture is a special case of the more general
situation of commodity types that require both other commodities and
labour for their manufacture. It isn't an analogy -- the simplified
production structure is a specialisation of the parameters of the more
general production structure, just as a circle is a specialisation of
the parameters of an ellipse.

I agree that models can be too simple to be relevant. I also think
that it is important to understand simple cases if one has any hope to
understand more complex cases. The simple case of the MELT I
introduced was intended as a starting point for further discussion, a
small back-of-the-envelope calculation. I was hoping to get to the
point where we could discuss whether the MELT is only a theoretical
measure or if in fact it also has a real causal role (do not have an
answer). But maybe I am asking too much from a discussion list --
collaborative thinking on the internet has its limitations.

As to your requirements for a model of capitalism, one point struck
me. Duncan Foley in his article "Sraffa's legacy" (Camb. J. Econ. 2003
27: 225-238) discusses whether it makes sense to construct models with
explicit commodity types, given the problem of actually identifying
types of commodities (e.g., is a Hewlett-Packard keyboard the same
commodity as a Microsoft Natural keyboard?) and the continual churning
of commodity types (e.g., is my PC today the same commodity type as my
PC two years ago?). I am conflicted about this at the moment, but am
inclined towards abstracting from explicit commodity types.


On Thu, 10 Jun 2004 19:40:08 -0400, Gerald A. Levy
<> wrote:

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