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Robert Vienneau: Thoughts Economics

Alexander Harrington Corrects Professor On Hegel’s Dialectic

Michael Harrington was a great socialist in the United States. This is not to say that he did not make some political missteps, at least at Port Huron. Isserman's biography seems to have Michael making political missteps throughout the 1950s and 1960s. His son Alexander had exposure to some hard-to-understand ideas before he got to college: My older son, Alexander, began to read Dostoevsky on his own when he was about fifteen and once told a college professor who was explaining Hegel's...

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A Robinson Crusoe Story

1.0 Introduction I wrote this decades ago. Here is a simple parable. Consider an island with a particularly simple society with two people, Robinson and Friday. Robinson and Friday live on one good, call it corn. At the start of our story, Robinson and Friday have just finished a feast. Both Robinson and Friday have each eaten food baked out of 50 bushels of corn. Also, Robinson has 50 bushels corn remaining. Friday, perhaps because he's newly arrived, has none. 2.0 The Initial Deal...

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Prices Of Production Before Labor Values

1.0 Introduction This post outlines an unoriginal argument against Marx's version of the Labor Theory of Value (LTV), if that is the right name. Somehow, this post was obliquely inspired by Fabio Petri's recent working paper. Suppose technology, net output, and the real wage are given. Then the rate of profits and prices of production are determined. Suppose that the technology provides a choice of technique. Then the determination of the choice of technique requires an analysis at...

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Why Is Reswitching Empirically Rare?

Figure 1: Variation in the Economic Life of a Machine with Technical Progress Exploration of the effects of perturbations of model parameters in the analysis of the choice of technique has suggested an answer to this question to me. I am not sure how well-developed the argument in this post is. The question is raised by empirical results, particularly by Han & Schefold and by Zambelli. I have previous commented on Zambelli. Heinz Kurz has recently questioned the reliability of these...

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Communism Worked In Central New York Around 1500

A Beach On The East End Of Oneida Lake The Iroquois are an example of primitive communism. This post includes lots of anachronisms, and I use current place names. I had never heard of the Haudenosaunee before, which apparently is the preferred term. I find I do not know much about my neighbors, the Oneidas. The Oneidas were one of the five nations in the Iroquois confederacy. I am confused whether primitive capitalism is tied exclusively to hunter-gatherer societies, without a surplus...

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David Champernowne

No book-length biography of D. G. Champernowne exists, as far as I can see. Even his Wikipedia page is quite terse. Yet he advised and participated in important twentieth-century intellectual developments. From Hodges biography of Alan Turing, I learned that 'Champ' was a friend of his. Champernowne did early work in programming chess-playing algorithms, along with Turing and Claude Shannon. Game-playing is one of those disappointing applications of Artifical Intelligence. What seems to...

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Future Papers For My Research Program?

I have sometimes written retrospectives about my research program. I have been exploring the results of perturbing parameters in models of the choice of technique. This is a bit more prospective. Illustrations of One-Dimension Pattern Diagrams: I have a selection of these written up. Independence of Economic Life of Machines and Capital-Intensity: I have the analytical results I want. I am being slow to read what I need to connect results up to Austrian capital theory. I have had a much...

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Hayek In The Pure Theory Of Capital

This is more of my commonplace book, based on reading some of Hayek's The Pure Theory of Capital. Hayek rejects Böhm Bawerk's average period of production, a single number summarizing the capital intensity of a structure of production. He still strives to say that more capital-intensive techniques are longer in some non-aggregate sense. I probably will not finish this book. To compare and contrast this book with J. R. Hicks' Value and Capital would be of interest. Hayek correctly takes...

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Wages, Employment Not Determined By Supply And Demand

1.0 Introduction I do not think I have presented an introductory example in a while in which an increased wage is associated with firms wanting to employ more labor, given the level of net output. This example is presented as a matter of accounting for a vertically integrated firm. Exact calculations with rational numbers are tedious in this example. I expect that if anybody bothers to check this, they would use a spreadsheet. As far as I can tell, Microsoft Excel uses double precision...

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Alienation And Commodity Fetishism

Marx, in Theories of Surplus Value, quotes James Stuart writing about 'profit upon alienation'. When one sells a good one owns, one has alienated it from oneself. In the typical work relation under capitalism, the managers of firms, that is, the representatives of capitalists, sell the product or services that workers produce. Workers do not own the goods they produce, for they have previously sold their labor-power. That is, they have agreed that their product is not owned by themselves,...

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