Re: [OPE] Reply to critics

From: Paula <>
Date: Fri Oct 29 2010 - 20:33:51 EDT

Jerry wrote:
> I said that services *CAN* be commodities, not that all of them are

Yes, that's what you said, but 'saying' is not the same as 'proving'.

> That's almost identical to saying that 'production' is a vague concept.
> If 'production' isn't vague, then we can identify labor which is engaged
> in production (of commodities).

Yes, 'production' is a vague concept, so we need to specify. Alright, now
you specify 'production of commodities'. But what's a commodity? I say it's
a good (not a service) made for market exchange; you say that a service can
also be a commodity, under some conditions. But so far you have not
specified those conditions, so we're still left with a huge amount of

> Once again, you show you don't understand
> the meaning of tautologies.

Consider the following (hypothetical) scenario ...

Teacher: Class, is the insurance industry productive?
Student: No, Sir.
Teacher: Why not?
Student: Because it's not production.
Teacher: But the insurance industry creates many products, doesn't it?
Didn't you guys got that flier about private student insurance at the
beginning of the year? Might be useful, now that so many public services are
being cut. So read it closely, it's a great lesson in how business works.
Student: Yes, Sir, but I'm afraid the products of the insurance industry
don't count as production.
Teacher: Why not?
Student: Because insurance is not production.
Teacher: So an insurance policy is not a product?
Student: It's a product, but it's not production.
Teacher: I don't get how you can produce a product without production.
Student: Easy, because insurance is not a commodity.
Teacher: Why not?
Student: Because it only insures a commodity.
Teacher: But wait a minute, why isn't an insurance policy itself a
commodity? It has an exchange-value, doesn't it?
Student: I already told you, because it's not production.
Teacher: Can you elaborate? We seem to be going round in circles.
Student: Well, insurance only concerns the legal title and ownership of
surplus-value, not its production.
Teacher: But why doesn't it concern its production?
Student: Because it doesn't produce surplus-value.
Teacher: And why doesn't it produce surplus-value?
Student: Because it's not production.
Teacher: It all sounds like a horrible tautology to me, perhaps you need
Logic 101 instead of Econ 101.
Student: Or perhaps you don't understand the meaning of tautologies.

> If there is a long-term tendency for de-commoditification and, hence, a
> declining
> rate and mass of surplus-value over time

Probably a declining rate, but not necessarily a declining mass, because the
number of productive workers could still rise in absolute terms.

Dave wrote:
>By your definition the unproductive share of the economy is steadily
>rising. But does this have any significance for the capitalist economy?

If it goes far enough, I suspect it must have. So we should be investigating
the scale, direction and consequences of this trend. I don't claim to have
done this investigation already myself, I really only have a few starting
ideas and questions that I hope are worth considering.

>Suppose further that the consumption of material-commodities by the working
>class falls as a share of their real wage

But we need to count also the commodities consumed by the unproductive
workers now maintained by that wage, just like we would count the
commodities consumed by non-working wives, children, elderly parents, etc.
The difference seems to be, in the first case a cut of those wages is taken
back and accumulated in the form of unproductive capital.


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Received on Fri Oct 29 20:35:37 2010

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