Wyman wrote:But I have a question for CL and uwot. CL claims above that workers are being exploited. That seems to be a basic assumption in his, or in Marx's, belief system.
It's not really a question for me, but since you ask: I think it is worth remembering that in 1848, when the Communist manifesto was published, slavery had yet to be abolished in the United States and there were few laws anywhere controlling child labour. I think it is fair to say that our attitudes towards workers rights have changed.
Wyman wrote:That is, there is 'surplus' value in their work that unjustly goes to capitalists - if not unjustly, then you wouldn't characterize it as 'exploitation.'
The surplus value is the difference between what you pay for the raw materials and the price you can charge for the finished product your employees make of them, more or less, gross profit. Net profit is what is left once you have paid all your overheads and taxes, included in which is the cost of the employees. The capitalist wants to maximise profits by paying the workers as little as possible, the worker by contrast wants to be paid as much of a share of the profits that their work has generated as they can extract. It is this conflict that is at the heart of Marx's philosophy as I understand it. I think Conde knows a lot more about Marx than me, so I won't comment on that, but what has happened since Marx was writing, is that technological progress has meant that the workforce needed to be more highly skilled and so it was in the interest of capitalists to agree to fund education and health care. As workers living standards rose, so did their expectations and demands. This cut into the capitalists profits, so rather than argue with well educated, organised labour forces, they simply upped sticks and started production in 'emerging economies', once Japan, now China; our grandchildren will probably drive cars made in Africa.
Wyman wrote:Can you defend this assumption? If there is surplus value, shouldn't it go to the most efficient user of that value - efficient in the sense of maximizing the benefits of the value for the good of the whole society? Why would a peasant be more efficient than a businessman?
I'm not an economist, but I think the good of the whole society is probably best served by having a well educated, productive workforce producing goods that people want to buy. I would have thought the most efficient way to achieve this is for 'a businessman' to pay a reasonable wage to people who do that. If this study is anything to go by, that's not what businessmen do: http://www.forbes.com/sites/frederickal ... tudy-says/
"A new study finds that around the world the extremely wealthy have accumulated at least $21 trillion in secretive offshore accounts. That’s a sum equal to the gross domestic products of the United States and Japan added together. The number may sound unbelievable, but the study was conducted by James Henry, former chief economist at the consultancy McKinsey, an expert on tax havens and offshoring."
Note that that is 'secretive offshore accounts'. Given that $21 trillion is in the same ball park as the US National debt, I think I can tell you where your money has gone, America.