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View Diary: Breaking: Justice Department to challenge AZ law (182 comments)

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  •  And, I might add, it's not really so strange (0+ / 0-)

    The average wage laborer during that time was willing to work for a wage that would compromise their long-term health in order to have enough money to eat tomorrow (they really had no choice).  The cost of buying a slave, though, isn't set by the slave, but by the slave dealer.  The slave dealer doesn't care whether the slave lives or dies after the sale, so there's no incentive to sell the slave for a price lower than the amount of value the slave could reasonably be expected to produce over his lifetime.  

    In other words, if the average slave could reasonably be expected to produce 2,000 British pounds worth of cotton over his lifetime, the slave owner has no incentive to sell the slave for less than that.  Consequently, the slave owner has a big investment up front and needs to keep the slave alive long enough to make his investment back.

    On the other hand, if the wage laborer's health eventually declined to a point where he could no longer work, he can simply be replaced by another worker without trouble.  And, that's what happened in England throughout the early industrial period.  Look at the health statistics for the English laborer: they decline precipitously.  Eventually, so many are unable to work that a labor shortage ensues and the government begins forcibly moving people from the countryside to the cities.  The health of the working class even begins to be seen as endangering the ability to raise an effective army.

    All this suggests that wage labor is more profitable, because the wage laborer can be forced to accept a lower price for his labor than the slave dealer will accept for the labor of his slave.

    To believe that markets determine value is to believe that milk comes from plastic bottles. Bromley (1985)

    by sneakers563 on Fri Jun 18, 2010 at 06:28:09 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

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