Re: measurement of abstract labor

From: Fred Moseley (fmoseley@MTHOLYOKE.EDU)
Date: Sun Jun 13 2004 - 23:23:56 EDT

On Sun, 13 Jun 2004, ajit sinha wrote:

> --- Fred Moseley <fmoseley@MTHOLYOKE.EDU> wrote:
> > > You asked me how do I measure the L in Marx's
> labor
> > theory of value?
> > I answered that the total current labor-time is
> > taken as given, including
> > adjustments for different skills and unequal
> > intensities.
> __________________
> My question is what do you mean by "given"? Let's
> leave the skill part aside--it's just unnecessary
> complication.

But we cannot put skill aside in this discussion, because different skills
in the main reason why quantities of socially necessary labor time are not
observable - because we don't know and can't observe the skill multipliers
that converts hours of different types of skilled labor into equivalent
quantities of simple unskilled labor.

What I mean by "L is taken as given" is this:  it is assumed that the
capitalist labor process results in L hours of socially necessary labor
time, in units of simple unskilled labor.  We don't know what this
quantity is, but it is assumed that it exists, and that it determines the
quantity of money new-value produced during this period (along with the
MELT), according to the equation:

        N   =   (MELT)  L

> ______________________
> >
> > Then you asked how do I EMPIRICALLY MEASURE the L in
> > Marx's theory.
> > And I answered that, one CANNOT EMPIRICALLY MEASURE
> > the L in Marx's
> > theory, because that L is a SOCIAL AVERAGE, socially
> > necessary labor-time,
> > not actual labor-times that are observable.
> ____________________
> But we all know that averages are generally observed,
> but there is well known and accepted methods of
> deriving averages from given data. So to say you
> cannot empirically measure it is wrong.

Methods of deriving averages do not work for different levels of skills,
nor for different intensities across industries.  Which methods of
averaging do you have in mind?  How would they deal with unequal skills
and unequal intensities.?

> _________________________
> >
> > And I asked you in turn: does you question about how
> > L is empirically
> > measured indicate that, in your view, a theory of
> > price must be in terms
> > of observable variables only?
> __________________
> No. I don't think so. The neo-classical theory has a
> theory of demand that is based on the notion of
> utility that is not observable.

I don't understand anymore why you are asking me how L is measured.

What are the implications that you would draw, if L could NOT be measured?

What are the implications that you would draw, if L COULD be measured?



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