links for 2010-02-16

  1. World Socialist Party (US) | Labor Theory of Value

    Looking for a simple, concise explanation of the theory, I find instead this litany of apologetics. Written almost entirely on the defensive, the article explains nothing about the Labor Theory of Value except why Marx scoffed at requests to explain it: — “if one wanted to ‘explain’ from the outset all phenomena that apparently contradict the law, one would have to provide the science before the science” (Collected Works vol. 43, p. 68). I don’t know if that explanation satisfies you, but I find it wanting. I think, ultimately, Marx uses the word “VALUE” as a term of art that means simply that part of an item’s existence attributable to the labor required to produce it. So, if I spent 50 man-hours making 50,000 turd sandwiches, Marx would “VALUE” those turd sandwiches at the going rate for 50 man-hours of labor. Sure, the labor theory of value makes sense in THAT context, but what about real life, in which we don’t always have the luxury of defining words as we please?

    Update: It has come to my attention after listening to a lecture on the opening chapter of Marx’s Capital that Marx believed that useless items had no value. He actually employed three terms of art, and what he saw as the relationships between them, to describe what a layman would call “value”. The terms are: use value, exchange value, and value. An explanation of this in the linked article would have been helpful.

  2. reason.tv | Don’t Get Hurt

    Fear of addiction and other harms resulting from prescription pain-killers is overblown, argues Ted Balaker at Reason.

  3. Cato Institute: Daily Podcast | Citizens United and SpeechNow.org | Steve Simpson

    “One of the thing’s I’d like to ask Keith Olberman one day is: Take a look around in that studio where you are. Do you see those black things in the back, you know, behind those lights? Those things are called television cameras. I can’t afford to buy a television camera. Maybe Keith Olberman can afford to buy one. I don’t have enough money to buy a broadcasting station. You know, without money, without corporations, it’s Keith Olberman doing very strange things in a room alone. With money, with corporations, its Keith Olberman being able to speak to about a million people. Please, don’t tell me that money has no impact on free speech.”

  4. reason.tv | Rough Cut Video Blog > The Green Police

    I bet many environmentally conscious Americans are looking forward to this sort of future, I am not among them.

  5. WNYC – Radiolab: Placebo (May 18, 2007)

    A great show about the mind’s power to heal.

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