- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Desire increases as things get more available?

Posted by: DonS ( USA ) on November 15, 1999 at 10:31:23:

In Reply to: Market-Exchange Theory posted by Barry Stoller on November 01, 1999 at 10:26:16:

: We can approach it from another angle.

: The consumer desire---which 'market exchange theory' posits as the creator of value---is set by forces outside the consumerís control.

Don: This is partially true, at least with necessities.

: A consumer is a worker first.*

Don: This is dubious. For one thing, I know plenty of people who were consumers long before they were workers. In any case, this is a chicken and egg type of argument.

: What a consumer 'wants' is largely determined by what the boss pays.

Don: What the employee wants is not determined by how much he is paid. If his current job does not allow him to get the things he wants, he can get another job.

: The worker gets a raise and suddenly the consumer gets more ambitious desires.

Don: False. He may be able to realize his previous desires because of the pay raise, but the desires were already present. Of course, he can also save his money, or donate it, or whatever.

: Consumer desire is, therefore, determined by the labor market. And capital buys labor in order to make a profit; labor receives less than what that labor creates for capital (otherwise the businessperson wouldn't bother). Therefore, consumer desire must always be less than the total product that labor creates. But productivity increases---and because there is more available at the local Wal-Mart at accessible prices, the consumer desires more.

Don: The last sentence is the most interesting. Desire increases as things get more available? Desire and price must then be inversely proportional, since price goes down as things get more available. Unless you wish to argue that price goes UP as things get more available--is that what you are arguing?

: This means that consumer desire---even capital's desire for labor---cannot place an intrinsic value upon any product. For both capitalist and worker, the productivity of industry places the intrinsic value upon desire for labor and consumer commodities respectively.

Don: This cannot be true. If you produce something no one wants, it doesn't matter how much you produce, no one wants it. It is true that as productivity goes up, demand goes down (as do prices), because the desire of consumers is fullfilled, ie, desire is reduced.

: The productivity precedes the desire. Productivity is the result of labor.

Don: If desire doesn't precede productivity, productivity will be sharply curtailed in short order (except perhaps in some socialist experiment where junk no one wants will continue to be made despite lack of consumer desire).

: So much for market-exchange theory.

: RD:
: The base line for shop-bloke is the amount he paid for it, which is in turn set by the amount the whole-sailer paid for it, in turn set by the production costs. To focus on desire is erroneous, because it focuses on the end of the production process, and not on, say, the wholesaler, whose desire (use-value) for the commodity is nil, except as potential exchange value.

: Nicely put.

Don: Yet false. If no desire exists, the shop bloke may have to sell at a loss.

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