[OPE-L] wages of superintendence

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Wed Nov 08 2006 - 13:21:56 EST

If they are paid out of profits, why do the wages of superintendence not
enter into the formation of the average rate of profit?

I've seen a few car factories in my time but never was a paid employee in
one. I cannot really judge the economic relation as regards supervisors in a
car plant. What would realistically happen if you didn't have those
supervisors, i.e. if you removed them?

In the US in 2002, you had about 16 million people classified as
"managers/executives" of some description and about 9 million classified as
supervisors (BLS data). That's a total of 25 million people or so in an
employed civilian labour force of 137 million at that time, or about 18%
(one in 5.5 employees approximately). I do not really know US society
sufficiently well to know what supervisors actually do there, of course they
could be just "office cocks" etc. (but a large number are women).

The concept of value added is a statistical concept aiming to measure an
economic relationship. It is equal in gross terms as gross output less
intermediate consumption; in net terms, you also deduct consumption of fixed
capital. Basically the aim of the concept of value added is to measure the
netted value of new outputs from production, created in an accounting
period, where production is defined as the activity of residential
institutional units in transforming inputs into outputs, that generates
money-incomes. You are correct, Marx's concept of value-creation is
different from the statistical concept; at best the statistical concept is
only an empirical indicator of the trend, and you have to rework the data to
get more sense out of it. I have sketched a Marxian concept of the value
product here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Value_product

In order to verify the productive role of managerial/supervisory labour, you
would have to examine all the different categories of that activity that
there are, and see what it is that they actually do, e.g. do they mainly
exercise only a control function, or do they mainly perform a productive
coordinating function that is an essential part of a production process (or
do they engage in straightforward production).

In national accounts, stock options and profit-sharing arrangements are
often included in "compensation of employees", although they can be a simple
appropriation of profit income.

In principle, the value of managerial labour power is equal to its normal
reproduction cost, taking into account training expenditure etc. but I admit
managerial salaries are often very inflated, i.e. price deviates from real
value. Nevertheless, you can establish broad averages or social norms of
what a manager of a given type costs, in a given society. But there are many
factors influencing it, e.g. supply/demand, skill monopolies etc.

Especially in the 1990s, everybody wanted to be a "manager", because it had
the prospect of more pay. I realise that many "managers" in fact aren't.

I have never argued that "We should, as radical political economists, let
corporate accounts and management define which employees are productive or
surplus value
and which are not". But I think statistical and accounting information is
useful, as an approximate gauge of the real proportions of social phenomena.

Main thing about a statistical concept is that it freezes or fixes a
phenomenon that in reality is in constant motion. We cannot measure anything
directly, if it is in constant motion, other than as an inferred
(probabilistic) relationship. We need among other things discrete counting
units which in some sense abstract from time.

I wouldn't call myself an empiricist, but unlike many Marxists, I do believe
in the utility and importance of empirical data. Otherwise I would be
talking only vague rhetoric.

A good Marxian treatise on management and managerialism is long overdue. By
"good" I mean thoroughly realistic, rather than ultraleftist.


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