The correct point is not about slotting particular individuals into one category or the other. Rather, on a given policy issue what is the relevant political influence of — on that issue — the makers vs. the takers? Very often the takers are the classic better-mobilized concentrated interest groups, a’la Mancur Olson. Consider farm policy and patents as examples but the list is long.
Many commentators are framing the matter in terms of raising or lowering the relative status of aid recipients. So it’s the aspiring student, the virtuous retiree, and the brave veteran, rather than the irresponsible bums. That’s a distraction (albeit a legitimate correction), as the real question is whether the political equilibrium is shifting toward takers. That’s takers as roles in particular political struggles, not individuals with “taker” stamped on their foreheads.
Various forms of crony capitalism arguably are on the rise. Is the political influence of the issue-specific takers, relative to the issue-specific makers, a growing problem in American politics? What does the evidence actually suggest?
It seems Romney got a lot wrong in his remarks, but I haven’t seen many of the commentators move the ball to even that simple place on the field.