Marx's Value Added and Profit on BBQ Ribs

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Marx's BBQ and Reified Rib Tips

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California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: July 7, 2004
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Latest Update: July 7, 2004

jeannecurran@habermas.org
takata@uwp.edu

Marx's Value Added and Profit on BBQ Ribs

4th of July and I was eating BBQ at my brother's and I was thinking about the Law of Value.

Now, as I understand it, the value (v) of a commodity is the sum total of the congealed labor in it in the form of dead labor (constant capital =means of production = previous labors) or (c) congealed alongside the paid amount (value) of living labor (v) which goes on off into in its production plus the surplus value (s) which is the non-paid portion of said living labor. Or

v = c + v + s or k + s where k = (c + v)

This, of course, is notwithstanding the transformation of this value (in Vol 1, Chap IX) into price of production (Pp) (in Vol 3, Chap IX) such that

v = (c + v) x (1 + P') or k(1 + P')

where P' is the general rate of profit

And this, in spite of the errors inherent in the simplification that is the above, is similarly, not withstanding.

Yeah, as I munched, I was ruminating on the Law of Value.

Now, as I see it, the difference between ribs and rib tips, aside from

The texture (Quality: of no importance in the below)

The size (Quantity: of some importance in the below)

The cost (Quantity: of prime importance in the below)

As I visualize it the only essential thing that really differentiates ribs from rib tips is the swipe of the knife that separates the whole rib into rib and rib tips. That's it. The very same act, the swipe of the cutting tool, 'creates' ribs and simultaneously creates rib tips.

Now, let us look at their 'values' as defined above.

In any given pig there are would be ribs and rib tips existing, cohabiting alongside each other as the pig's ribs. In the very same pig they are

1. Bought or born into ownership (c in the form of invested capital)
2. Sheltered (c in the form of fixed capital)
3. Fed (c in the form of circulating capital)
4. Tended (by v in the form of labor engaged in what could be called Production Process A .
5. Slaughtered (by v in Production Process B) and
6. Separated into ribs and rib tips (by v in Production Process C.)

At every step these two erstwhile commodities share identical costs of production. And yet, in spite of the fact that there is a greater weight per pig of ribs than rib tips, at any given BBQ stand a, say, pound of ribs will cost you more than a pound of rib tips. Why?

Best,