Worth of a Worker

1 Oct 2013: Capital (Ch. 19, “The Transformation of Labour-Power into Wages,” 1867, Karl Marx)

Again clarifying the previously-sensed fuzziness of classical economics’ conception of terms and categories, here as pertains to labor and wages. Marx lays out the division of the working day for capital between work done for the sustenance and “reproduction” of the worker (necessary labor) and work done for the valorization of capital (surplus labor), explaining the intuitive idea that a man is only hired because more can be taken from him than what he receives – without this there is no profit, and no capital as such. Labor power, i.e., is distinct from actual labor, because the equal value of labor-power, which requires replenishment by food, sleep and other necessaries (perhaps cable and cell phone bills too, today), for which an employee is paid, is less than the total value produced in actual labor over the course of the working day. Reaffirms the idea that abstruse concepts – which is how one unpracticed in economics looks at it – are only the result of widespread mystification as to the terms under discussion: if one has the axioms and principles clearly and precisely explained, which Marx does (even if he often comes across as dogmatically exceptionalist as regards his own terminologies, especially with frequent condescending references to Proudhon), economics no longer retains its incomprehensible arcaneness: it’s out in the open, challengeable, which any apologist for its rarefied benefactors is bound to have problems with.

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