John Steward of Jesus
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Who is productive?

November 6, 1980

A man is productive if, through his efforts, goods and/or services are made available in such quantity that other men in a free market are willing to exchange sufficient wealth for those goods and/or services so that the productive man is self-supporting.

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The definition above applies to production in a net sense. If any goods and/or services at all are made available through a man’s efforts, he is to that extent a producer.  Any production is better than none at all. But if a man does not produce enough to be self-supporting, he remains, in net terms to the community, a consumer.

The definition technically applies not to a net producer or net consumer, but to the man who on the balance sheet is neutral.  If all men remain neutral, society has no problem. If society wishes to accept some net consumers, then there must he net producers to compensate for the net consumption of others. These net producers will therefore accumulate surplus wealth. This surplus wealth benefits the community when the net producer either invests it in a productive enterprise, or donates it to charitable causes or to individuals, or permits the government to take it from him for such purposes.