[Marxism] Value creating and non-value creating labour III - comment for Jake

Jurriaan Bendien andromeda246 at hetnet.nl
Mon Jun 28 11:28:01 MDT 2004

Jake wrote:

>love your whacky calculations ( 8%?) too bad one  can only guess what you include  and exclude here.

I based my rough calculation on (1) total US population by age (2) data on employed, unemployed and institutional population (3) the known number of average working hours per year of American workers (4) what we know about the work hours involved in household and voluntary labor. I cannot claim the estimate is exactly accurate, and therefore I said specifically, somebody could make a more exact calculation than I have done. The 8% refers to paid working hours as a proportion of all the lifetime hours of all Americans put together. It's simple math, you take the total resident population, multiply by 365 days and multiply by 24 hours to get a grand total. You can multiply the employed workforce by the average working hours per year, and so on. I think this type of calculation is interesting myself because it puts the temporal dimension in perspective - we are talking about the relationship between worktime and lifetime.

New Internationalist magazine has cited figures calculated from World Bank and ILO reports which show that paid work done by Germans in West Germany in 1987 totalled 55 billion hours a year, earning them a total of $335
billion, while for instance housework done by women inside the home totaled 53 billion hours a year - and formally earns them no remuneration at all. But these figures exclude other voluntary labor outside the home.

Marx wrote specifically about class society that "The specific economic form, in which unpaid surplus-labour is pumped out of direct producers, determines the relationship of rulers and ruled, as it grows directly out of production itself and, in turn, reacts upon it as a determining element. Upon this, however, is founded the entire formation of the economic community which grows up out of the production relations themselves, thereby simultaneously its specific political form. It is always the direct relationship of the owners of the conditions of production to the direct producers - a relation always naturally corresponding to a definite stage in the development of the methods of labour and thereby its social productivity - which reveals the innermost secret, the hidden basis of the entire social structure and with it the political form of the relation of sovereignty and dependence, in short, the corresponding specific form of the state. This does not prevent the same economic basis - the same from the standpoint of its main conditions - due to innumerable different empirical circumstances, natural environment, racial relations, external historical influences, etc. from showing infinite variations and gradations in appearance, which can be ascertained only by analysis of the empirically given circumstances." http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1894-c3/ch47.htm

Conventional economics expels serious consideration of working hours from economics and focuses on prices, but I think it is quite interesting to put Marx's statement in quantitative perspective. ]

Jubilee reported in 2000 that "The accumulated external debt of the world's richest country, the United States of America, is equal to $2.2 trillion. This is almost the exact amount owed by the whole of the developing world, including India, China and
Brazil - $2.5 trillion. In other words, three hundred million people in the US owe as much to the rest of the world, as do five billion people in all of the developing countries.  http://www.jubilee2000uk.org/analysis/reports/J+USA7.htm

Effectively this means that with a superior bargaining position and an enforcible credit system, you can live on borrowed time and also displace part of the costs of your lifestyle in space and time (a lot of US economic growth in recent decades was attributable to the inflow of foreign capital). At the other end, FAO reports that around 25 million human beings die annually from hunger, and in some countries (e.g. Russia, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland and Zimbabwe), average life expectancy has actually been decreasing. The United Nations estimated that in the 1950s the world average life expectancy rate was about 46 years, with the developed regions having a life expectancy of 66 years and less developed regions having a life expectancy of only 40 years. By 1998 world life expectancy increased to 63 years with more developed regions increasing to an average of 75 years and less developed regions increasing to 62 years. A majority of Africans can expect to die at or before 48 years. In sub-Saharan African countries like Botswana and Malawi, the average life expectancy is already below 40 years


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