A friend e-mailed me an interesting (and convicting) article from American Vision about productivity. The main point is that increased productivity comes from "sacrifice, i.e. from forbearing present consumption plus ideas and work. Increasing productivity always comes at a cost."
The author laments that Americans have gone away from this principle that lead to our success.
For the last century Americans have gradually adopted an economic doctrine completely hostile to the spirit of their Puritan forefathers and to common sense in general: That not sacrifice, but consumption is what produces economic growth. We think we have found the way to both eat the cake and have it at the same time. If we eat more, buy new cars more often, spend more money on entertainment, these will somehow make us richer and more productive.
The author has some pretty pointed (and true) thoughts about the current government plans to "fix" our economy.
Even simple common sense tells us that production for consumption and investing for economic growth are two completely different activities, and they compete for our resources. The more we consume, the less we will have to make our life better in the future. And vice versa, the more we sacrifice and save, the more we will have to invest and make ourselves more productive.
I encourage you to read the whole thing. It really made me think and want to be more productive.