[lbo-talk] Lionizing Wealthy Americans, Rather Than Taxing

Chris Sturr sturr at dollarsandsense.org
Wed Dec 7 12:51:26 PST 2011

Well, Marx gives an economic answer to the question of how *wages* are determined--they are determined the same way the price of any other commodity is determined. But you were asking about the 1% and whether they "earn" what they are paid. But the 1% are not paid wages, because they are not wage workers. I just think when people ask whether the 1% or the super-rich "earn" what they get, they usually decide on moral/ethical grounds--that is, they are thinking about whether they *deserve* what they get. (Defenders of the 1% think it's a fair return on their investment; critics think they don't deserve it, etc.) And I did give an economic answer of sorts: Jim Cypher's: http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2011/0711cypher.html. But I think even Jim's answer depends on a moral foundation. And Marx's economic answer did too, in a sense. In response to people who thought that employers were "robbing" their employees, or that workers "deserved" the full proceeds of labor, he typically responded that employers aren't stealing from their workers, if they pay the prevailing wage; they owe the workers no more than that. The prevailing wage *is* the fair wage--but in Marx's view that's no defense of it. His critique of wage-labor was political, not moral.

^^^^ CB: Carrol makes a logical error here. Chris said determining how much people deserve for their work is an ethical question. I did not. I asked for an _economic_ answer. Note that in Marx's political economic labor theory of value , he gives a scientific, not ethical, answer to the question of whether capitalists earn the wealth he has. Capitalists exploit their wealth.

Or we might call it a legal and political question. If private property , the law is changed, then capitalists will not be earning what they are paid. We, the 99%, can change the law of private property.


-- -- Chris Sturr Co-editor, Dollars & Sense 29 Winter St. Boston, Mass. 02108 phone: 617-447-2177, ext. 205 fax: 617-447-2179 email: sturr at dollarsandsense.org

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