Questions for Review, Capital, Chap. 19: Answers

3. The wage hides exploitation by making it appear that all labor is paid for, by obscuring the fact that the wage buys only what is necessary to reproduce labor power. Time wages do this through their form, e.g. an hourly wage: you work an hour you get paid for an hour, you work another hour and you get paid more, the more you work, the more you get paid. Similarly, piece wages also do this through their form: in as much as you get paid by the piece, the more pieces you produced (the more you work) the more you get paid. In both cases the real link between how much you work and how much you get paid hides the existence of surplus labor. It also hides the relationship between the wage and the reproduction of labor power. Focusing on the time or piece rate obscures the aggregate relationship which demands that these rates and the amount of work time available be such that total wages can in fact buy enough goods to reproduce the worker. The fact that some workers are not reproduced but live and die in poverty below subsistence wages, while others receive very high wages, far beyond anything one would want to call subsistence, also obscures the average class-wide situation.

6. Grades = IOUís on future wages? The degree to which this is the case depends on the empirical relationship between the grade hierarchy and the wage hierarchy. While there is certainly no strict correspondence between the two, high grades do not guarantee high paying jobs, it is generally true that higher grades allow you to progress to higher levels of the schooling system and to acquire higher level degrees. And, there is a fair correlation between the level of degree acquired and the level of wages associated with jobs open to those with various educational degrees, e.g. Ph.Dís on the average earn much more than those with only a high school diploma. At a theoretical level, grades measure not only the acquisition of knowledge (often quickly lost) but the amount of work and self-discipline demonstrated by the student and reflected on tests, papers, etc. Moreover, obtaining higher degrees require more self-discipline and less teacher/professor-imposed discipline and thus demonstrates the suitability of the students for more "responsible" professional positions where most supervision is internalized and outside supervision is relatively indirect. Credit? Perhaps if later wages are considered payment for previous work done producing labor power. On the other hand, perhaps not, perhaps the work is never compensated for. Hide exploitation? Certainly in the short run when work is being done (producing labor power) and no real money is paid as wages. However, exploitation is analyzed by Marx in terms of the extraction of surplus value which is not the case here, immediately, but at best only later when the school work results in higher productivity and higher s/v. Then, the question is whether the forthcoming wage compensates for the earlier unpaid work? If not, then exploitation for sure.

Questions for Review, Capital, Chap. 20: Answers

2. If intensity of labor rises while time wages rates remain constant then the real wage, measured in terms of the value of commodities obtainable with the wage remains constant, but measured in relationship to the expenditure of energy the real wage clearly falls because more work is being done for the same money.

4. Time wage rates hide exploitation by making it appear that all labor is paid for, by obscuring the fact that the wage buys only what is necessary to reproduce labor power. Time wages do this through their form, e.g. an hourly wage: you work an hour you get paid for an hour, you work another hour and you get paid more, the more you work, the more you get paid. The real link between how long you work and how much you get paid hides the existence of surplus labor. It also hides the relationship between the wage and the reproduction of labor power. (basically the same answer as that to question 3, chap 19.

8. Wages as expression of working class power or weakness? When wages were at or close to biological subsistence they might well be seen as a measure of weakness. Workers were unable to force capital to pay them enough to live decently. But as long as, and everywhere that, wages are well above subsistence they measure the ability of workers to force capital to develop and to share in the fruits of that development. Moreover, wages provide the material foundation of much of workers ability to struggle with business through such things as the accumulation of collective strike funds or individual savings which allow workers to weather strikes or lock-out unemployment during periods of struggle. Wages also buy the communication and travel necessary for working class self-organization both in struggle against capital and in self-valorizing activities undertaken to build alternatives to capital. This is true both of workers in general and for particular groups of workers in particular. For example, the movement of women out of the home and into the waged labor force has provided them with a wage independent from that of their husband. Whether the motivation for acquiring a wage was independence or family necessity, the command over income strengthens women in their dealings with men óin the home and outside. Thus the demand by some women for "wages for housework" from business and the state is not only a demand that housework be recognized as a productive activity but a struggle for more power through more material resources.