[OPE-L:4197] Scrap

john erns (ernst@pipeline.com)
Wed, 12 Feb 1997 17:28:10 -0800 (PST)

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My comments on the "scrap" discussion between Jerry and
and Alejandro follow:

1) Alejandro R wrote in [OPE-L:4175]:
> > In any case, what
> > would be the amount of LABOR TIME objectified in this scrap,
> > once it is in Costa Rica? Is it the amount represented by
> > the price paid by the capitalist? The "original" labor-time
> > had been already transferred to US commodities. If we think
> > that the machine is a "waterfall" we should think that,
> > actually, it does not contain labor-time, it is a kind of
> > "natural force".

2) Jerry in ope-l 4179

> The steel or aluminum or whatever embodied within the machinery still has a
> (potential) use-value and a value. Its value would be represented by the
> labor-time required to currently reproduce the steel (or whatever) minus
> the loss in value due to the physical "wear and tear" of the material
> itself (consequently new steel would have greater value than older steel
> with rust). At some point, the materials would cease to have any re-sale
> value when the raw materials cease to have any use-value due to extreme
> physical deterioration (or, indeed, might have a negative exchange-value if
> the owner of the scrap has to pay money for the disposal of the
> materials, e.g. in a landfill). Unlike the "waterfall", the physical
> components are products of labor and continue to retain value because as
> "scrap" they can serve other purposes (especially now that "recycling" is
> more commonplace). There may, however, be a divergence between the value
> and exchange-value of these commodities due to special regional and/or
> market considerations.


The capitalist selling the machine to others in low wage countries
makes a "super profit" unless we assume all capitalists in the sector
allowed for the sale of this as "scrap" even though it could still
be used productively in low wage countries. Note that even newer machines
may not enable capitalists in the low wage country to compete with this

3) Alejandro again:

I agree with what you say in the case of more or less competitive
markets of "scrap". But the problem was not only the "nature of
scrap" but the fact that this "scrap" was carried by a capitalist to
another place where is practically a monopolic means of production.
There are no other capitalists who have this "scrap". In that case,
does the scrap-machine act as a "waterfall"?


Not quite. The "waterfall" is not produced at all. The machine which
seemed to scrap is, at best, a temporary "waterfall" given that other
scrapped machines may follow.