From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK)
Date: Fri Jan 27 2006 - 04:36:40 EST
Rakesh --------------------------------- But for the purposes of the pension system Bob is in fact five years older. Tell Jim that he is really the same age as Bob as he must labor those five more years. If it's a mine in Bolivia or West Virginia, he may not even make it. Because the lie is a matter of life and death, the distorted ages are more real, of greater practical importance than what you are taking to be real ages of these two chaps.I am saying that the ages on which the pension system acts determines the real age of these two guys. In other words, value as simple price is a magnitude of no real importance. Just as for the purposes of the pension system the so called real age is not important. In fact value as simple price is of much less importance that total value and total surplus value. In bourgeois society, the value of a commodity is its price of production multiplied by the value of money. ---------------- The liquidity of a pension scheme depends critically on the true age of participants, not their socially recorded age. You cant live longer by lying about your age. Both pensions and value relate to the allocation of the human lifetime - the so called pensions crisis derives from the decline in the flow of new value relative to the size of the working population. The dependence of social production on the allocation of living labour remains even when it is hidden by monetary mediations. Thus to vulgar economic commentators the pensions problem comes because people are not saving enough - not putting away enough for their old age. The reality is that in any given year it is the current labour of the extant working population that supports the whole population. Pensioners are not fed and clothed out of 'savings' performed 40 years ago - they do not eat tinned food that was put into store then, nor wear clothes that were sealed in plastic in 1970. Money generates the illusion that your savings now can feed you in the future, but what appears true to the individual does not hold at the level of society. I think that some of the confusion about the difference between value and exchange value stems from a similar individualistic standpoint. From the standpoint of the individual firm selling price/market price is all important - to them the value of something is what they can obtain for selling it. At its best, classical political economy broke with this individualist perspective. In a different way, Keynes also broke from the individualist perspective in addressing issues like national levels of savings, pensions etc.
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