- Capitalism and Alternatives -


Posted by: Gee ( si ) on November 23, 1999 at 10:14:20:

In Reply to: Ah... posted by Red Deathy on November 22, 1999 at 13:49:29:

: I wouldn't ened to know that, as a consumer, or producer, but as an economist, I would neeed to know that what I was talking about was meaningful. I use many words a day, I struggle when asked to define them, its not a thing we consciously know, but we know how to use them - 1 is a word. What does it mean? I don't believe that we have useless, meanuingless language. you're ducking the question, btw, and its quite a vital one.

Its not ducking - its simply not falling for LTV as the be all and end all of what 1 means. Its usefulness in creating nice economic models does not translate into effective explanations for what is actually happening in the wide world of trade. I'll grant this - LTV is 'cleaner' and less 'fuzzy' than any one STV model, or atleast more comfortably 'concrete' feeling - but its not enough to explain whats going on in the analysis - its jumping the gun on a 'unified economic theory'.

: If 500 people wanted a car, say, and 500 wanted a bog roll, and supply and demand are exactly the ratio same in both cases, then shouldn't the price of a car and of bog-roll be teh same?

There are several reasons why they are not - one of which you'll like and the others you wont. lets start with the one you like - yes it takes up more labor time to make cars. Now - bog rolls have more easy substitute goods whilst cars are limited to walking for days, horses,trains all of which are very different from the car. Further to this bog rolls dont enhance one's life as much as a car can so you get more utils for a drive (for most people), Cars are important to many people as expresions of individuality, privacy and 'show' as well as a means to travel - Ive never met a person who utilises bog rolls to the same effect, they perform a less interesting role (pun!) That list goes on almost ad infinitum - in most cases you'll be arguing why cars are more desirable to a person than bog rolls and evidencing this with observations of behaviour and people's aspirations (I want to go accross 12 states, carry stuff home, pull a caravan, go miles every day etc etc = car, I want to wipe clean = roll. which one do you think people will give more for?). You might hold that the only constant factor is labor - but doing so disregards all those variables and that would be a mistake. As a conglomerate effect they are also a constant influence on that actual decision to exchange.

I do know what youre getting at. I accept the philosophical position that all value is created by mankind - you can argue that because of this all else is follow-on detail which misses the point - but as I said before - my argument was not to bury LTV but to argue that its just not good enough for the kind of analysis needed to show exploitation. The best effort was the 'throw it all in a bag and count em up' argument explained by SDF - and that cant tell me how many $/bananas/gold nuggets I was exploited by, or why my neighbour chose a nissan truck over a dodge.

: I described an early society, before division of labour really set in, as the basis of this thinking, we have developed since then, to where it is not a feasible thought, too much machinery involed, etc. But the basics, that my social effort, in terms of the labour I contribute, should be returned to me.

How do you know it isnt? because the factory owner is getting richer? What if the labor you were contributing wasnt much when compared the the 'labor' of organising the factory. The best we can end up arguing for using this approach is a kind of meritocracy with inheritance/gifts barred (which means you don't really own 'your' property as you can't give it to anyone). Hardly socialist.

If you want 'from each according to ability...' to happen then dont argue in terms of labor contributed, but out of ideological egalitarianism.

Follow Ups:

The Debating Room Post a Followup