By J. A Kregel
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Extra resources for The Reconstruction of Political Economy: An Introduction to Post-Keynesian Economics
Marx felt that he had solved this problem with his dual definition of labour. Thus, in Marx's analysis the distribution of income between labour and the capitalists is given by the rate of exploitation in the production process (the difference between the time it takes for the labourer to produce his value and the length of the total working day the capitalists impose on labour). Thus for Marx the transformation process concerns the distribution of the given surplus amongst the capitalists so that each earns a uniform rate of profit on his capital, irrespective of size.
Ricardo's distinction, as outlined above, is completely rejected and forgotten. The nomenclature of the neoclassical theory - production, distribution, value - was the same as the Classical (recall the rabbit and the elephant) but their point of view was obviously different. Market prices were the sole point of reference in the explanation of why individuals made decisions about specific products and factors. Assuming given tastes, given techniques of production and given supplies of factor services the question was to find which of all possible allocations of the given supplies to production and consumption would produce the greatest utility for all.
Thus in cases where the 1 It has recently been revived due to the work of Sraffa. 24 The Reconstruction 0/ Political Economy ratio of capital to labour is not uniform for all output, prices need not be proportional to labour costs, although Ricardo thought the assumption worked well enough for rough averages. In the more general case prices will equal wages plus profit on capital employed and will be proportional to labour costs only in the special case where the capital-labour ratio is uniform in all lines of production.