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Unions and the Natural Standard of Wages: Another Look at "the J. B. Clark Problem"

Unions and the Natural Standard of Wages: Another Look at "the J. B. Clark Problem" History of Political Economy 32:3 (2000) property rights of capitalism as fair to workers. Instead of being critical of competition, Clark aimed to show how it resulted in a just distribution of income (Henry 1995, 19–21). Through a review of Clark’s analysis of labor unions, this article offers an interpretation of his transformation as a continuum that extended beyond his neoclassical work. At each stage of his career, Clark believed that the individual ownership of property and the market competition of capitalism were a more effective economic organization than the collective control of socialism. He maintained, however, that workers needed to be given a stake in that economic system through a claim to a wage consistent with their abilities. Before and after his formulation of marginal product theory, I argue, he accepted unions as a means for workers to gain that claim. Development of this interpretation of Clark’s work highlights a neglected point regarding his formulation of marginal product theory: The static version of marginal product theory on which his reputation in the history of thought now rests was not the culmination of his thinking about wages and competition. Clark’s classic statement of his marginal product theory did http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png History of Political Economy Duke University Press

Unions and the Natural Standard of Wages: Another Look at "the J. B. Clark Problem"

History of Political Economy , Volume 32 (3) – Sep 1, 2000

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2000 by Duke University Press
ISSN
0018-2702
eISSN
1527-1919
DOI
10.1215/00182702-32-3-585
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

History of Political Economy 32:3 (2000) property rights of capitalism as fair to workers. Instead of being critical of competition, Clark aimed to show how it resulted in a just distribution of income (Henry 1995, 19–21). Through a review of Clark’s analysis of labor unions, this article offers an interpretation of his transformation as a continuum that extended beyond his neoclassical work. At each stage of his career, Clark believed that the individual ownership of property and the market competition of capitalism were a more effective economic organization than the collective control of socialism. He maintained, however, that workers needed to be given a stake in that economic system through a claim to a wage consistent with their abilities. Before and after his formulation of marginal product theory, I argue, he accepted unions as a means for workers to gain that claim. Development of this interpretation of Clark’s work highlights a neglected point regarding his formulation of marginal product theory: The static version of marginal product theory on which his reputation in the history of thought now rests was not the culmination of his thinking about wages and competition. Clark’s classic statement of his marginal product theory did

Journal

History of Political EconomyDuke University Press

Published: Sep 1, 2000

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