Re: measurement of abstract labor

From: Allin Cottrell (
Date: Thu Jun 17 2004 - 23:03:32 EDT

On Thu, 17 Jun 2004, Ian Wright wrote:

> > Could anyone explain this idea (I don't think it's specific to Phil)?
> > I confess it makes no sense to me.  How does money "measure" anything?
> I think the "money as measure" phrase is meant to indicate the
> relation between prices and labour times, although I agree it is a
> loose formulation.
> > Is this an ellipsis for "[short-run equilibrium] price measures
> > labour-time", in the sense that the quantity of money people are
> > willing to pay for a commodity retrospectively determines the degree
> > to which the labour that went into its production is/was socially
> > necessary?  (That I can understand, though I disagree with it.)
> Assuming overall that supply meets demand then if I'm very lazy and
> take a long time to make commodity A compared to my competitor, but A
> sells for one price, then some of my labour-time is not rewarded, and
> was therefore socially unnecessary. No?

To be sure, but in this case money plays no essential role in the
argument: you've taken more than the socially necessary length of time
to produce the commodity, and your specific labour-time, therefore,
does not count at par.

I was thinking of a different case: I produce some commodity, using
best-practice technology and minimum labour-time, but consumer taste
tuns against it, and it can be sold only at a heavily discounted
price.  Does the low price mean that my labour-time is retrospectively
counted as less than socially necessary (i.e. that the _value_ of the
commodity I have produced is depressed by the downturn in demand)?  I
think not: rather, price has been depressed below value -- and
presumably the consequence is that the quantity produced will be
curtailed, to the point where price roughly corresponds to value.


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