Capitalization of Labor

…Human labor is forbidden to be capitalized through direct human ownership. But through the marvel of modern finance human labor continues to be capitalized. Labor capitalization today is carried out through the ownership of businesses. The most familiar example today is the stock market where pieces of businesses are regularly bought and sold.

Labor capitalization is also present in private (non worker-owned) business that are not actively traded on a public exchange. Labor which was once sold through slave markets, is today packaged with other assets and sold as a business. By owning a business, human labor can now be owned, sold, and traded. The clever packaging of labor and assets into business ownership is the marvel of modern finance through which labor is currently capitalized. It also serves another function useful to maintaining the perception of legitimacy of the employment system, obscuring the ownership of labor. It is fairly straightforward to see that owning a slave is owning the labor of person. But intermixing the labor of many people on an interchangeable basis and combining it with other assets in a firm diverts attention from the underlying labor ownership. Owners (stockholders) of a typical business today own the labor of the employees. The value of the employees’ future labor is incorporated in the price of the business. Labor ownership is represented by the difference between the market value of a business (the number of shares outstanding times the current price) and its net asset value (assets minus liabilities). That difference, called “goodwill” is the capitalized value of labor.


see the previous post for some insight or examples

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