Discovery co-founder George Gilder was on Lou Dobbs to say that real dependency in the United States is far greater than the 47 percent or so who do not pay income tax. It should include many crony capitalists and fat cats: the corrupted Wall Street banks and financial institutions who live off federal incentives and inducements, the legal class that depend on more and more federal regulations and rules to make their services necessary, the “education bureaucrats who feed on” ever expanding federal programs, the “green machine” (including farmers hooked on ethanol) and even Silicon valley venture capitalists who are seduced by federal industrial policy.
Not all these people vote their narrow self-interest as clients of government, of course, but neither will all the people who depend on more direct federal subsidies. What Gilder is trying to do is warn people that big government eventually saps the energy of a free people until they no longer are free, after all. They become what another thinker, C. S. Lewis, called, “willing slaves of the welfare state.” As Gilder shows in Wealth and Poverty, the slaves can be found as much in board rooms as welfare lines.