In this world, there are two kinds of people. You can be a consumer or you can be a producer.
Neither one is inherently good or bad – these are just descriptive terms. You can produce 100% of your own food and have a terrible heart, one that rejoices in the misfortune of others. You can never produce a single thing in your whole life and be kind and generous. This article isn't meant to demonize consumers or set producers up on a pedestal.
Really, most of us are a combination of each type. But we should strive to tip the balance toward producing whenever possible because when bad things happen to an economy, when long-term disasters strike, and when everything changes, it is the producers who survive.
I talk about consumers and producers a lot, and recently a person in the comments asked me to clarify the concepts and share some ideas on how to become a producer.
So…here's what it means to be a consumer or a producer.
Consumers are just what they sound like – people who consume. They purchase things they did not make, eat things they did not cook, and use up resources without replacement.
The terrifying thing is that we have become a nation of consumers who produce hardly anything.
Even our workforce these days rarely produces. The workforce cleans up after others, provides services, and spends their days in cubicles behind keyboards. Most of them do not go home after a long day at work having created something of value. They go home exhausted after a day of wrangling people or data, too tired to have a vegetable garden or perform productive tasks.
Many Americans have no productive skills because this is no longer a thing that is prized in our society. Jobs in the trades sit empty. Young people these days choose to go to college to learn about literature or social justice or the theories of business instead of becoming part of the skilled labor force. Unfortunately, jobs matching these educational paths can be hardwon and many people with graduate-level degrees serve fast food to people who don't have the time or the inclination to cook. Forbes says that 44% of recent college graduates work in jobs that don't require the degree they just got deeply in debt to obtain.