Measuring exploitation

Doug Henwood dhenwood at panix.com
Thu May 16 10:44:32 MDT 1996


At 8:34 AM 5/16/96, Bruce Cronin wrote:

>Moseley, Shaik and Tonak etc. point out that wages as a share of value
>added understates the degree of exploitation, as 'wages' includes payments
>to unproductive workers such as supervisors and managers.
>
>The category remainder of 'value added' after the deduction of 'wages'
>also bears little relation to the concept of surplus value as it excludes
>flows of surplus value classed as 'intermediate production' such as
>financial transactions.
>
>Therefore the ratio of wages to value-added is not an indicator of
>exploitation, but rather reflects a distributional struggle over the
>results of the process of production.

Yeah yeah yeah, but it's close enough for journalism. The Moseley figs for
the U.S. are a few percentage points lower than the World Bank's
(converting minutes worked for self to a percentage), but they show almost
the same trend over time. The WB figures are reported for 20-30 years and
for over 100 countries; why bust your ass reworking bourgeois accounting,
unless you have a dissertation to write? Let's not fetishize technique too
much.

Doug

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