Date: Thu Sep 08 2005 - 07:54:56 EDT
----- Original Message ----- From: "Dave Zachariah" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Sent: Thursday, September 08, 2005 4:42 AM Subject: [OPE-L] Workers' savings, a form of surplus value? Gerald Levy wrote: ------------------------------------------ For what it's worth, I do not agree that workers' savings constitute a part of the total surplus value. Rather, I believe that we should view workers' savings as constituting a portion of the total _value_. Assuming that the wage equals the value of labour-power, if workers are able to save some portion of their wage then at the simplest level of understanding it means that workers are defraying consumption expenditures now with the intent of consuming more at a later date. One has to recall that the wage does not equal the subsistence requirements of workers narrowly and physically understood. Rather the wage and the value of labour power have a cultural and moral component which changes over time and is different in different social formations. This is largely a consequence of the class struggles that have occurred over time in different social formations which have resulted in new cultural understandings and standards for what constitutes workers' needs. Moreover, given the existence of an industrial reserve army (and hence uncertainty by workers about job security and future earnings) and the lack of state policies that provide for retirement and future medical expenses, then some level of savings by workers is required to meet their real or potential future needs. However, perhaps others on the list believe that workers' savings constitute a portion of the aggregate surplus value. If so, then I'd like to hear what their reasoning is. ------------------------------------------ Jerry, I follow your point that the wage does not equal the subsistence requirements of workers narrowly and physically understood, and that some level of savings by workers is necessary. But I don't think it is an issue here. Perhaps the problem of classification becomes clear if we look at the national accounts in a closed economy with two classes (as in Kalecki's simple model). (1) Profits + Savings by workers = Investment + Capitalist consumption From historical materialism we know that the right hand side of the equation is the monetary value of the social surplus product. What about the left hand side? Since profits are the only surplus incomes in this model the traditional approach is to say that only profit is the monetary surplus value. From this it follows that (2) total monetary surplus value < monetary value of surplus product since total savings by workers is often > 0, which would be an odd way of accounting. On the other hand if we want to maintain an equivalence in (2) then (1) suggests that savings by workers must constitute a fraction of the total monetary surplus value. This also adds to the distinction between the formal appropriation of surplus value and the real appropriation of surplus labor. Best wishes, //Dave Z PS. Congratulations to OPE-Ls 10th anniversary. I have only studied Marxist theory for about four years during which the OPE-L archive has been the main source, through discussions, links and references, of up-to-date Marxist political economy.
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