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.


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…if you believe in personal responsibility, it is most effective to leave people to their own devices. Natural rewards and consequences will do the heavy lifting. If you believe in the centrality of family, you need a government that doesn’t take a wrecking ball to its foundations. That is, the decline of the family is, as Taranto notes in his post, in large part due to government action. The simple solution is to have government stop acting.

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