Re: measurement of abstract labor

From: Fred Moseley (fmoseley@MTHOLYOKE.EDU)
Date: Sat Jun 19 2004 - 23:28:44 EDT

On Thu, 17 Jun 2004, Allin Cottrell wrote:

> 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.

Please see my previous post for a more precise formulation.  Yes, Ian is
right that "money as measure" indicates a relation between prices and
labor-times.  That relation is that invisible quantities of labor-time are
indirectly measured in observable quantities of money (i.e. prices).  I
don't think this is a loose formulation at all.  I think this is a very
tight, rigorous formulation, derived at great length by Marx in Section 3
of Chapter 1, and then developed further in Section 1 of Chapter 3.

> > > 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.
> Allin.

Allin, I think you are right about this.  If supply is less than demand
for a particular commodity, then its price will fall below their values
(i.e. its long-run average price); excess supply does not cause the value
of the commodity to fall.  Ian has already answered this question


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