Re: [OPE-L] empirical measurement of changes in the value of labour-power

From: GERALD LEVY (gerald_a_levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Tue Dec 11 2007 - 09:31:25 EST

What we can empirically measure, is such things as:
- the (total) costs to capital of labour employed (not just the gross wage, but also various levies)
- the (total, i.e. current disposable income + deferred income) of the worker
- the expenditure of the worker's labour income on goods and services
- the goods and services purchased by the worker
- the difference between direct and indirect taxes and levies charged, and social security benefits received
- the costs of replacing the worker (including the costs of raising children)
- the paid and unpaid labourtime involved in reproducing the worker to arrive each day fit to work
Hi Jurriaan:
What statistics are available which allow us to make international
comparisons for the last two things identified above?
- the realised income differential of skilled labour resulting from education & training, or seniority 
- the financial benefit deriving from skill monopolisation
- the economic rent that ensues from labour scarcity
Insofar as the VLP includes, as Marx says, a "moral-historical element", no complete measurement of the VLP is ever possible which is incontestable, 
Agreed.  the difficulty of estimating the "moral-historical element" is 
also compounded by the fact that in some social formations,
firms pay-out to workers in direct compensation and benefits
monies for goods or services which in other social 
formations are paid by the state and represent a sort of "social
As for the question which you originally raised (before I
side-tracked it), whether changes in food prices cause a
change in the VLP (or a change in real wages) depends on 
whether the change in food prices is short-term and 
temporary or long-term.  If the price of wheat goes up
in the next 3 months but falls afterwards, then during those
3 months real wages would decline ceteris paribus but this does
not mean that the VLP itself will change.
In solidarity, Jerry

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