[Marxism] Baker reply re tech & inequity

Peggy Dobbins pegdobbins at gmail.com
Mon Aug 27 14:50:30 MDT 2012

Dean Baker replied to the question I copied you asking him to address.  I appreciate his bothering to do this as I'm sure he has lots of pressing demands on his time.  And if you do, skip my comment and scroll to it.

And that very phenomenon I think goes to the heart of our [people trying to understand economic forces for the sake of peace and justice] dilemma.  People who believe they share our commitment
and who are in positions to influence the thinking of many others,  action goals of progressive organizations and parties, and legislative agendas of individuals holding positions of state power, do not have TIME to shift their perspective.  Im talking about shifts that do not require reading tomes nor piles of data. Just shifts like 'why not welcome falling prices as much as rising wages? In the case of my question to Baker, about expanding social surplus, and the general standard of living by prices falling vis a vis wages rising, he did at least answer.  And his answer is consistent with populists going back to Wm Jennings Bryan ( for the sake of farmers' saving farms mortgaged to the bankers) and to Keynesians (for the sake of industrial unions negotiating with their bosses).   Still, small farmers and industrial Laborers were squeezed out by technological increases in productivity, and the surplus value went to the wall street traders and inflation wiped out the purchasing power of savings, social security, and hard won benefits.  Now wages, or salaries or contracted services  go up for those with jobs and the amount of free time goes down for them  to have "aha, it's just like shifting from a figure to a field perspective" experiences.   In this case, if we go back etymologically to measuring "productivity" it WAS units/manhour. Reversing the equation,   Manhours/unit yields the labor value of any unit, good or service sold.  Yesterday on  NPR some Pax Technocraciers (who did not sound a bit like Marxists) said time exchanges are already replacing that commodity regulated by the Fed Res (money)  Which is not exactly why I've been harping on the fact that while
"international money exchanges a dollar today, tomorrow a dime, 
yet by international standard time, an hour's an hour in any clime"
(http://peggydobbins.net/dwellingintents.html) cf prologue 

Begin forwarded message

> From: Dean Baker <dean.baker1 at verizon.net>
> Date: August 27, 2012 2:45:50 PM EDT
> To: pegdobbins at gmail.com
> Subject: Fwd: Fwd: Question re tech & inequity
> Hi Peggy,
> sorry to be slow getting back to you, we had some e-mail glitches. The quick answer on prices is that there is a short-term and long-term issue. In the short-term, the reason for wanting inflation is that it will reduce debt burdens (e.g. mortgages) and lower the real interest rate (If a firm borrows at 5 percent interest and it knows the goods it sells will rise in price by 4 percent a year, then its real rate of interest is just 1 percent, this will cause them to invest more). For these reasons, higher inflation is likely to increase demand and employment.
> In the longer term picture, the important issue is whether wages rise relative to prices. This can happen either by prices falling or by wages rising. Generally the story has been the latter.
> thanks for writing.
> regards,
> Dean
> -------- Original Message --------
> Subject:	Fwd: Question re tech & inequity
> Date:	Mon, 27 Aug 2012 11:22:51 -0700
> From:	CEPR <cepr at cepr.net>
> To:	Dean Baker <baker at cepr.net>
> -- 
>   CEPR 
>   cepr at cepr.net
> ----- Original message -----
> From: Peggy Dobbins <pegdobbins at gmail.com>
> To: Dean BakerCEPR <cepr at cepr.net>
> Cc: "SWT at list.riseup.net" <SWT at lists.riseup.net>, Scott Marshall
> <scott at rednet.org>
> Subject: Question re tech & inequity
> Date: Thu, 19 Jul 2012 14:42:32 -0400
>   As an intelligent non-economist non-policy influencer who frequently
>   shares on Dean Baker's columns, I think respectfully addressing my
>   "this may be a dumb question, but..." would be helpful to many of your
>   readers.  The following on my mind for a while, were raised by your
>   last piece on productivity and what I took as written to allay my fear
>   of inflation and embrace of falling prices.
> In re tech productivity
> 1). If we may define 
> social surplus/the commonwealth as the same as total global surplus
> labor value; ie 
> Monetized World average labor time we add, MINUS
> world average labor time of others that we must buy to reproduce our
> labor power,(ie be competitive in the world labor market)
> Then 
> isn't the improvement in general living standards still mostly a
> function of reduced world ave labor time in what we must buy?  Don't the
> same forces described by the law of the tendency of the rate of profit
> to fall  drive down prices of all commodities the working class needs to
> thrive -- laptops, smartphones, and (unaffected by cartels etc,) energy,
> housing, clothes, food?  Why shouldn't  we ordinary people want prices
> to fall?  Why do we want to inflate the currency to keep prices up to
> keep the rate of profit up artificially?   Isn't it increased tech
> productivity driving down prices that raises the general standard of
> living?
> 2) isn't it the uneven development of productivity of products of same
> kind and of different forms of labor that drives the benevolent aspect
> of competition? 
> Thanks for your attention and contributions,  especially to the case for
> reducing the labor time required to earn a livable wage
> Peggy Dobbins, PhD
> Retired sociologist, Retired activist
> Artist. Cf. "international behind the barcode" and "dwelling in tents"
> at 
> Www.peggydobbins.net

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