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It's the producers of wealth who make our society possible

Not long ago Michelle Obama declared that young people should forego the corporate world and pursue a career in public service. That prompted me to think about America, a rich country with an abundance of great independent people who have the abi...

Not long ago Michelle Obama declared that young people should forego the corporate world and pursue a career in public service.

That prompted me to think about America, a rich country with an abundance of great independent people who have the ability to make something of our material resources to benefit humanity. America is a country where even the poorest of our citizens have goods and services that average people in other countries must go without.

America is also a country where we are ideologically divided between the producers of wealth and the consumers of wealth.

The producers of wealth are the ones who make everything else possible. When you think about it, wealth only comes from the people who either dig it or grow it. The trick is to make sure there are more producers of wealth than there are consumers of wealth.

The producers of wealth are the workers who mine wealth from the ground and the farmers who either grow or gather wealth from the fields. All other industries add additional value with a process or conversion to some usable form. Producers of wealth work with their hands and minds to create products sold around the world to make better lives for themselves, their employees and the many people who benefit from their efforts.

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Consumers of wealth are the ones who regulate, protect and administrate society. The challenge is to balance these activities in a manner that enriches lives continually, remembering that consumers of wealth must rely on taxes paid by producers of wealth for survival. The reality then is that although consumers of wealth pay taxes, they derive all of their income from the producers of wealth and, in effect, are net consumers of wealth.

This includes all the people who work for the government or who draw their subsistence from the government. Could it be the lowest-paid laborer in the factory, mine or farm contributes more to the wealth of our country than the politician who levies taxes on him?

Most often it is the consumers of wealth who rail against the industries that provide the vast array of goods and services we expect and depend upon. They demonize the farmers, pharmaceutical companies, oil companies, mining companies, manufacturers, fast-food restaurant chains, large retail businesses, bankers or anyone producing and supporting the industries that contribute to our standard of living and make a profit while doing so. From those profits and wages the producers of wealth pay taxes. These are the people who are the real taxpayers who make all else possible.

The other day I ran into a man I knew when he was in public office but who now works in the private sector. He proceeded to express to me how he disliked working for a capitalistic organization. That surprised me because I was unaware of how strongly he despised the very system that provides all of the goods and services we enjoy in America.

Somewhere along the way in history we lost touch with wealth and what it really means to the average American. Where does wealth really come from? Is wealth only the private domain of a very few privileged members of our society?

Could we each possibly contribute to the production of wealth, or are we the benefactors of and consumers of wealth?

In one of his books, Harry Brown quoted William Graham Summer about "The forgotten man." "When A takes from B and gives to C, the world is well aware of the benevolence of A and of the plight of C; but B is the forgotten man." How long will it be before the Bs of this world want to become As or Cs? A new political season is upon us and the candidates are lining up to tell us how much the government will provide for our well-being.

Where will voters stand? Will it be in the line of the producers of wealth or in the line of the consumers of wealth?

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With respect to Michelle Obama, we need young people who will someday make all of our lives better through their inventive and entrepreneurial activities, their work on farms, in factories and in labs, and all the activities that add value to the products they'll produce.

Working for the government or in public service will never produce a grain of wheat or ton of iron ore.

Clyde Nelson of Duluth is vice president of the Citizens Research Council.

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