Refuting an American Communist (by Jonah Esty)

Matthias Carroll 1/16/17

first 100

The first argument presented was a critique of wages, of value-based production economics generally called Labor Theory of Value. This was, in my opinion, an astute observation. Eons ago societies devised an intermediate currency, often in the form of resilient metals (gold being chemically quite inert), by which to exchange services. This was a sensible measure, even in an anarcho-capitalist society (not communist as we will later discuss) intermediate currency would prove beneficial. Why is this the case? Simply because different people have different abilities and the milk man would get paid daily, while the dentist would receive payment only when he services were required, which is less often. Perhaps the dentist has a few cows of his own, is the milk man to do without dentistry because what he produces is not of value to the dentist? People do not work without incentive, I cite Jamestown as evidence, and currency provides opportunity to obtain any number of various wants or needs.... .

         From here the communist and I have a divergence. He argues the compensation for one’s labor should not be less in value than what is produced. My father is self-employed, if he sold his services for less than he put into them he wouldn’t be able to sustain a business. But to the businessman if he paid a worker the price of ten silver bracelets for the labor of having made the ten items it would profit him nothing. The businessman has firstly to procure the silver and tools with which to work it, the building and furnace for those in his employ, and various other furnishings. With this is mind it is no wonder he charges more than the raw input, or conversely pays his worker less than what he himself walks away with. He must net a profit in order to advance his enterprise. The communist proposes the workers should receive part of the fruit of their labor, and this is a thought I had not entertained. It seems practical for small production like jewelry, but even then the worker would spend his weekends attempting to market his goods, bartering them for food and clothing (if only there were a more convenient intermediate). For those producing an automobile this is not very pragmatic, for those selling their services considerably less so. The fatal flaw in this theory is that workers can produce a product.

         Sure, in agriculture a farmer can produce a bushel of potatoes, radishes, and the like, but Milton Friedman argues no one can make a pencil. By this he means not one individual can go on an expedition gathering rubber and refining it, finding the proper timber and milling it, acquiring graphite and honing it in order to collate a completed pencil. The economy is a market whereby people exchange their goods and services, it’s mutually beneficial. Lastly we can return to subjects we agree upon, the compromising greed that is wrought in this (or any) economic system. Workers are better off being self-reliant, producing a product and marketing it themselves, but even then there is great risk involved that employees cannot fathom. Many see communism as a rudimentary system that only works on an agricultural level. It should interest them to know, in Israel for example, the communal societies known as the Kibbutz are advanced enough to produce surplus agricultural goods as well as plastics and weaponry for the army. However, they cannot manufacture everything necessary to run an industrial plant themselves, so as you may have guessed they voluntarily trade their goods and services.




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