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

c b cb31450 at gmail.com
Wed Dec 7 13:16:55 PST 2011

Chris Sturr

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.

^^^^ CB: In the same text, he gives a political economic answer to the question of how surplus-value, profits and capital values are determined, i.e. how the wealth of the 1% is derived through exploitation of the surplus value produced by the labor of the 99%, no ?

You know M-C-M" and M-M'.


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.

^^^ CB: Correct. They are paid surplus-value and accumulate capital values. Capital is in the form of Money in two parts of the fundamental circuit of capital.


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.

^^^^^ CB: Yes, we need a scientific, political, economic, social, moral, popular , rhetorical argument to persuade the class unconscious of the 99% that the 1% should be divested or expropriated of their surplus wealth and it should be redistributed to the 99% (by the 99%) and then the property laws should be changed so that the rich can't accumulate the surplus wealth ever again. The expropriators are expropriated


(Defenders of the 1% think it's a fair return on their investment; critics think they don't deserve it, etc.)

^^^^^^ CB: Correct. We need popular, political arguments as to why this is hogwash on the part of the 1%


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; Yes We can call it political. But it is foolish to follow Carrol's lead in disdaining moral arguments to the 99% in the political discourse. The 1% make moral arguments concerning moral hazard and individual personal responsibilty, work ethic as to why the 99%ers should not be bailed out of debts in the way Wall Street was bailed out to the tune of $7.7 trillion. We should take up that moral hazard argument in that case. And otherwise we should take up moral arguments to win the political argument. We should make artistic arguments if they will sway people. Religious arguments in some cases: Jesus threw the moneychangers out of the Temple. Jesus said take care of the poor. We should make those arguments to Christians.

^^^^ 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.


More information about the lbo-talk mailing list