Are you a producer or consumer?

The old quip states, “Pro is to con as progress is to Congress.” A modern variation: Pro is to con as produce is to consume.

Mass marketers think of you and me not as people, or even numbers. We are, fundamentally, consumers. Consumption, they would have us believe, is our purpose.

Consumption takes many forms. A morning shower, an afternoon fuel up, a midnight snack. A trip to the mall, a walk through Wal-Mart, a showdown at the Golden Corral. Whenever you ingest, utilize, use up or take in, you consume. Sometimes it’s so easy you don’t even know you’re doing it. Until the account statement comes in or the account balance goes low.

“Oh, yes. I remember now. I did go by Dick’s Sporting Goods for that.”

The brilliance of corporate marketers is not just that they get us to consume without thinking about it; it’s also that they get us to consume and consider it a necessity.

“I did go by Dick’s for that, but my son needed it.”

Maslow indeed made a Hierarchy of Needs. “Batting glove” was not on it.

“I just had to drop by Sonic or my blood sugar would get low.”

I wish I felt so adamant the other direction: “I just had to get to the gym or my arteries would get hard.” Unfortunately, production must go uphill. Consumption simply rolls downward.

Production requires strength. Consumption needs but a bit of weakness. Hence, many people find themselves in a consumer’s pickle. Too much debt, too little wealth. Too much weight, too little health. Too much pollution, disorganization and chaos. Not enough stability, sustainability and order.

Heaven knows there’s more to life on earth than producing. Unbridled driven-ness is as distasteful as uncontrolled consuming. But most of us have greater tendency toward the latter than the former. And, on balance, our society needs more producing and less consuming.

Some thoughts on how to do that:

Become aware of your consuming. Take a day and write down everything you consume. Water, shampoo, toothpaste, toiletries, food, drinks, chewing gum, gasoline, office supplies, air conditioning, cell phone minutes, online purchases, convenience store snacks, medicines, entertainment.

Then, fast from some consuming. It is Lent, after all. Fasting was once so commonplace that we named a meal after it (break-fast). Today, we only associate it with sports cars and download speeds. But fasting exposes the hankerings that drive our consuming. I don’t realize how much I “need” that drink until I try to go without it.

Fasting breaks habits and breeds self-control. And self-control is the seed of productivity. Many can tear something down, or just let it degrade by gravitational force. Only a few can build something up. That is, turn consumption into production.

When resources are put to good use and for a greater good than merely the self-focused engorgement of the consumer, positive production happens. When not, garbage in, garbage out.

America succeeds, businesses succeed and families succeed when producers outnumber consumers, when providers outnumber the provided for, when givers outnumber takers.

Consuming is certainly easier than the hard work of education, discipline and, ultimately, production. But only with producing come the rewards of dignity, prosperity and true independence.


Kevin Thompson writes weekly for The Boerne Star in the Texas hill country. He can be reached at

3 Responses to “Are you a producer or consumer?”

  1. 1 mrdonnigeria March 20, 2013 at 08:52

    Great article. Someday put them all in book form and publish it Dad


  2. 2 Grant Rampy March 20, 2013 at 09:54

    Another winner! (This one hits pretty close to home.)

  3. 3 Bennye Waskom March 21, 2013 at 14:44

    More “takers” elected our President.

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