The Value of Labor
Given “The Labor Theory of Value,” the questions revolve around, how much value?
First, it is important to remember that there is no fixed or absolute value to labor. Its value is determined only in the marketplace, that is, when someone or ones have agreed to purchase it or compensate for it.
Second, it is useful to remember that people labor primarily for the purpose of survival.
Third, once survival has been obtained, some of the fruits of one’s labor may go toward increasing wealth. Once again, the magnitude of that wealth depends entirely upon the marketplace. To some extent, whatever wealth is created may persist in time and add to the general wealth of whatever society includes the marketplace where it is traded.
Fourth, it is necessary to address that the value of labor varies greatly between persons and societies.
A number of factors influence the value of labor:
* personal ability and industriousness;
* already existing raw material or work in process to which value may be added;
* training and education;
* being part of team all working on the same project;
* the availability of tools;
* (most importantly) numerous aspects of the various cultural streams in which the labor occurs.
In a society where people are free to labor and to trade the fruit of their labor, prosperity ensues. As wealth is generated, the society and its culture grow. By wealth, I mean the product of ones labor that lasts in time and has value to other members of the society. By culture, I mean information that passes from the mind of one person to another’s. By cultural stream, I mean a grouping of cultural information that is associated with a particular group of people, for example, Buddhists, dentists or astrophysicists. Almost everything important to our lives exists in culture:
* All communications and teaching;
* Tools and infrastructure;
* Most skills;
* All art;
* Theories and beliefs;
* Science and technology;
* Banking and finance;
In a prosperous society, among the most highly compensated workers are those who work only with culture, for example lawyers, bankers and investors.