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The Forum > Article Comments > How to improve social wages with tax reform: Laborís mission > Comments

How to improve social wages with tax reform: Laborís mission : Comments

By Tristan Ewins, published 11/10/2011

Laborís 2011 Platform must enable real tax reform for social wage expansion

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Just to try and kickstart something... Looks like there's quite a few readers but not much debate. (none actually :-( ) It's always good to provoke thoughtful debate when you write something, though; To see you've made people think about issues... So if anyone is thinking of commenting pls do. :)

Tristan
Posted by Tristan Ewins, Tuesday, 11 October 2011 7:09:50 PM
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I have what could be a good idea,Irwin.Julia owes it to her union mates to enhance their standard of living by giving those who survive being laid off as a result a lot more wages. Then go one step further.Give them tax concessions. This may maybe drive the millionaires overseas taking their business with them and giving jobs to others there. That process has already started,hasn't it.She can always say that the treasurer of the year has done it and therefore it can't be all that bad. The Chinese, Indians etc will line up with plaudits and wave Aussie flags.
Brilliant.

socratease
Posted by socratease, Tuesday, 11 October 2011 7:55:28 PM
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Tristan
Since according to your theory, employment is intrinsically exploitative, why not just confiscate the wealth of all employers, and give it to the exploited working class? Surely this would be the ultimate in the social wage, since after all, according to your labour theory of value, the entire final product is imputable to the labour of the working class, and the role of capitalists is only parasitic. Right? Why do you resile from that logical conclusion of your theory?
Posted by Peter Hume, Tuesday, 11 October 2011 8:41:42 PM
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Peter; I would support a variant of the labour variety of value - but not the same as Marx's.At a certain point at least Marx believed that various forms of labour were commensurable. Thus the true value of goods and services could be discerned from the AMOUNT of labour applied to creating these.

But in reality it's impossible to come up with an objective measure. Apart from skill & 'labour market forces' there's also the nature of different forms of work - whether the work is enjoyable or unpleasant...

But regarding capitalists themselves - there are small investors who work hard to acquire the capital to invest; These are not 'at the same level' as the 'rentier' capitalist class - those who have so much wealth they do not need to work and can afford to delegate whenever they want...

But even then there are some capitalists who are visionary or innovative - and their labour is valuable... But even then - Bill Gates made an enormous contribution to Microsoft - but was this such as to warrant making him a BILLIONAIRE?

The point: You can't 'pin down' the EXACT value of labour - but where a rentier class exploits on a grand scale - or even where visionaries and innovators exproriate more than their (admittedly valuable) contribution warrants - then YES - Exploitation occurs - but again cannot be quantified in PRECISE terms...

Further to this we are integrated in a global economy... The kind of exploitation that goes on in a capitalist economy may be morally deplorable; But to access the innovations of the transnational corporations we need allow them operate on our soil without fear of expropriation.

On the other hand we CAN have collective capital formation and public investment (eg: a sovereign wealth fund); and unions can and should bargain for collective capital share in return for a history of wage restraint. Finally we should create a supportive environment for co-operative and other democratic enterprise... And corporations need pay their fair share for the infrastructure, education etc they benefit from - as against all-pervasive corporate welfare...
Posted by Tristan Ewins, Tuesday, 11 October 2011 8:58:29 PM
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The value of a capitalists' contribution doesn't come from whether he personally works. If that theory was right, then it's not the capital, but the labour of the capitalist that is important.

You cannot establish any principle which determines whether a given enterpreneur "expropriates more than his admittedly valuable contributions warrants".

"The point: You can't 'pin down' the EXACT value of labour" -

The point is not that the LTV is correct but you can't pin down the EXACT value of labour. The point is that the entire labour theory of value is wrong, and *that's why* you can't pin down the exact value of labour.

Since *all* of the entrepreneur's profits are in exact proportion to the masses of consumers - "the workers" - valuing his product higher than all the other things they could have had with the money they had to hand over to buy it, and since the final value is attributable to that and *not* to any alleged but undiscoverable objective value of labour, therefore the LTV is wrong and there is no exploitation or expropriation taking place.

"The kind of exploitation that goes on in a capitalist economy may be morally deplorable"

But you haven't established that there is any exploitation involved yet. The costs of production do not determine prices, as the classical economists wrongly hypothesised and Marx parroted from them. It's the other way around. The reason you can't find an objective value is because *all* human values are subjective. This means your entire theory is wrong, and all your conclusion that follow from it.

"On the other hand we CAN have collective capital formation and public investment (eg: a sovereign wealth fund); and unions can and should bargain for collective capital share in return for a history of wage restraint."

We can also have total expropriation of the capitalists. But you haven't shown how that, or your proposal, would better serve the wants that the masses consider most urgent, important or valuable.

"corporations need pay their fair share for the infrastructure, education"

Please define fair share of taxation.
Posted by Peter Hume, Tuesday, 11 October 2011 10:12:36 PM
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Tristan, you acknowledge Ms Wong's warning of a shortfall, but you then suggest in your piece an incease in welfare payments to the working population. Do you not see the inherent contradiction?

Australia doesn't have a "cost of living" issue, it has a "cost of consumption" problem. This is bad for those like Solomon Lew and Gerry Harvey and it's not real great for me, but I don't see that as a reason for more taxpayer money to be poured into the hole.

Over the past 40 years there has been a concerted effort to get women into the workforce, but that has brought with it a massive increase in Government spending intended to "compensate" women for working. As a result of that and the constant ratcheting upward of welfare and transfers, Government spending on those things has gone up by around 75% in terms of GDP since Keating.

I'm afraid your piece ignores the real elephant in the room, which is that getting women into the paid workforce has cost a great deal of money and has had little tangible economic benefit. We'd be far better just importing guest workers from our near neighbours and letting our women get on with the important work of raising the next generation.

In case you missed it, I recommend Goldman Sachs's 2009 report http://www.gs.com.au/documents/About/MediaRoom/2009/Gender_Research_Report_2009.pdf
Posted by Antiseptic, Wednesday, 12 October 2011 4:59:37 AM
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