Makers vs. Takers at Occupy Wall Street

The Occupy Wall Street protests have popularized the distinction between the lowest 99% and the highest 1% of income earners. Prof. Chris Coyne suggests that a distinction between makers and the takers is a better way to understand the problems that the protesters decry.

There are makers and takers in all income brackets in society. Makers are individuals who produce things that people value. When people trade with makers, both parties are made better off.  Put another way, trading with makers is a positive sum game. Takers, on the other hand, are individuals who redistribute or destroy value, which is a zero sum or negative sum game.

The Occupy Wall Street Movement is really about the protesters’ frustrations with the takers of society who fail to produce value for society, and instead, look to government to take wealth from others.

Coyne argues that we want a society with many makers and few takers. In order to obtain this outcome, we need to limit the takers by placing constraints on government, making it difficult to use government to take from the makers. Therefore, Occupy protesters worsen the situation when they ask for special government privileges such as eliminating student debt.


  1. Alex Moscoso

    I agree with this guy, but I think a problem with the occupy movement (when it was at it’s peak) was not much for creating more makers or even respecting them. It was about people being frustrated of others having such high wealth (maker or not). They want that money or their "fair share". Nothing short of socialism. Now one part I completely agree with is the redistribution going through bailouts to the large corporations, and NOT the people. My opinion is if the government is going to bailout the businesses, bailout the people too. Even though I disagree with bailouts period.

  2. Brian Phillips

    The occupy movement really did seem to want socialism more than anything.  They advocated less for free markets that actually work, and more for social justice and wealth redistribution.  Far too often I saw the signs saying that all student loan debt should be forgiven.  If done, that would do nothing but take moral hazard out of the equation, and eventually the problems would just get worse by teaching people that actions (taking out loans) don’t have consequences.  

  3. Grady Flanagan

    My favorite part was the non-contributing zero who advocated redistribution of not only income, but all assets. "I’m sorry sir, but this house you live in is far too large for just you and your wife. We thank you for all of your hard work in achieving your paid-off mortgage, but we are going to need this house for someone who could more properly fill the space."

  4. Emerson Howard

    A great way to view the movement. 

  5. Kevin Burctoolla

    I agree with this.

  6. Robert Smith

    I understand that the movement is "old news" but as a newbie to learn liberty, I just want to add agreement to the end of your comment – I think a sound understanding of actions have consequences would have a huge impact on solving many problems for this next generation of would be takers

  7. borisjvandruff

    “That would do nothing but take moral hazard out of the equation…”

    You mean there should be CONSEQUENCES to our actions? 😉

  8. Lukas Koube

    yeah, the occupy wallstreet movement tried to avoid criticism by not ever making a stand. i understand wanting to to have everything done by consensus, but that is impossible in a constantly shifting group of people. in the end, OWS turned into an embarrassment….just a group of people who didnt know what or why they were protesting

Leave a Reply