I trust you wont mind If I adopt a tone of frivolity. I find the labor theory of value and the notion of exploitation interesting, but I cant be serious all the time.
: 1) If I am a ‘moving man’, am I a ‘worker’? All I do is arrange for the movement of goods.
Actually according to Marx, Smith, Ricardo, Friedman, Mises and all the other chaps (even Keynes) you would be a worker. Lets say that the product in position A is of little use to the fellow who wants to use it and you move it to point B making it available and useful to him. ta daaa! youve made 'moving' a use value of sorts in its own right. Ofcourse you exploited him, or was it that he exploited you? Either way youre all bastards!
: 2) If I call myself an ‘economic opportunity researcher’, rather than an employer, do I suddenly become a service employee, i.e. a worker?
Try as you might you could never disguise your evil! Recall that whilst the devil could adopt a disguise one could always check to see if he had hooves, or something.
: 3) If I go get a haircut, does the barber exploit my ‘surplus wealth’ if he sells the hair clippings? Or is he insulated by the fact that I’ve paid him for the service?
The cut hair is yours unless you leave it lying around - its an interesting scenario really - imagine a court case where the one who had their hair cut demands proceeds from sold hair whilst the hairdresser counters by demanding a 'rent' ot 'interest' for having kept the hair on his premises. hmmm. Anyway you may rest assured that somewhere along the line someone is being exploited.
: 4) If I have a factory that turns plastics and silicon into electronic equipment, all the workers there are ‘exploited’ by me, de facto. The workers, incensed at the thought, strike, making my company unprofitable. I then close shop. Does the subsequent reserve of unprocessed plastics and silicon retain the value of their potential? Or do they become lumps of junk?
Youre onto something here. I say that the difference between the use-value of a worker, some material and some tools and the use-value of the finished product is profit - the ones who facilitate and organise the activity of those workers, materials and tools are enabling the increase in use-value. The price of all those things is determined by the peceived value, the amount one is willing to trade for. The more use-value you have to trade the more use-value you want in return. Hence economies tend to increase in the sum of their wealth as ever more useful things are traded for ever more useful things.
: Then, of course, there is that critical question: Is Marx an idiot … or what?
No, I think he was intelligent - an intellectual - but being intelligent does not mean being right. Nor did Marx intend (I think/hope) for 'marxism' to always give way to terrifying dictatorships as seen in China and the USSR. That they almost always seem to give way to such does suggest that being a 'marxist' with power over poeple is to, intentionally or otherwise, invite a terrifying dictatorship in the near future.