Who owns company profits and uninvested savings?

Dr . Wolff, Some time ago I read Heilbroner and Milberg's __The Making of Economic Society__ They seemed to lean towards Public/Private Partnerships. I am unclear how they differ from your co-ops that receive government assistance. Can you please clarify? They further discussed that company savings comprise a component of withheld wages. I would argue that uninvested savings are wages that need to be returned to working class people that helped establish and perpetuate the company. Do you agree that Company savings comprise a component of wages withheld from the company laboring class?

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Since there is virtually no private capitalist industry that does not receive "government assistance" (usually in multiple direct and indirect forms), the term covers too much. To get at this another way, public-private partnerships usually refer to something much more intertwined that "receiving government assistance." A partnership usually means some pooling of private and public funds as investments in an enterprise from which at least the private investors aim to draw a profit. It is thus currently touted for infrastructure spending by conservative governments seeking to keep down fiscal deficits. The worker-coops I discuss are not public private partnerships in general (although it is possible to imagine a worker coop whose working capital comprises both a public and a private component). The worker coops I envision are wholly private enterprises that demand and should obtain the range and size of government assistances (direct and indirect) that have been provided to private capitalist enterprises over the last few centuries. There should, I believe, be a level playing field on which capitalist and worker-coop enterprises might compete for the allegiance of the public, so it can choose freely between the enterprises both as places in which to work and as producers from whom to buy.


On your second question, I think it was Marx who got at this issue more clearly and systematically. Company savings he called part of the surplus, the value of output over and above the values of the labor power and material inputs used up in production. For Marx, that surplus, produced by labor, was appropriated by capitalist employers and used as they saw fit. It might thus be said to have been "withheld" from the workers who produced it. In Marx's conception, capitalism arrogated to the small minority of employers the power to dispose of the surplus, whereas true democracy required that the workers who produced the surplus should rather be those who decided its disposition.

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  • Richard Wolff
    responded with submitted 2017-01-04 22:58:37 -0500
  • Dan Va
    published this page in Ask Prof. Wolff 2017-01-04 02:33:43 -0500