Thomas Sowell's column on Monday reminded me of a world view that I find quite useful. I like it because it gives a picture of the type of person one should be, without giving a lot of particulars. There are two types of people in the world: creators and consumers. No one is exclusively one or the other, since everyone creates to some extent, and everyone (must) consume to some extent. So it really is a story of net creating or consuming.
Net creators add more to the world than they take out. There are several obvious examples, like Bill Gates, or Larry Ellison, or the Steves of Apple, or Larry and Sergey of Google. Many examples abound; in fact most people are net creators. If they weren't, the world would not have progressed to the point it has.
But net creators don't always (or only) create new consumer goods or capital goods. Some net creators add to the psychic benefit people derive from certain activities. In a way, this can be considered a consumer good. Football, for example - many people enjoy watching football in its own right. Others enjoy hearing a good sermon at their church, so that the priest provides a psychic benefit.
Net creators put more value into the world than they take out. Net consumers are the opposite: they take without giving. Fortunately such people are the minority. One need not dwell for too long before thinking of a few examples in one's own life. Furthermore, one might suggest football players are net consumers, if you don't enjoy football. I think there's merit there - such that sports stadiums shouldn't be financed by public funds - but that's neither here nor there right now.
My main message here is a moral one. I believe we have a duty to be net creators, to the extent we are mentally and physically capable. My only argument for this, aside for "Protestant ethic" stuff, is the logical opposite: imagine a world of net consumers. Can you?