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George Franklin Gilder (/ˈɡɪldər/; born November 29, 1939) is an American investor, writer, economist, techno-utopian advocate, and co-founder of the Discovery Institute. His 1981 international bestseller Wealth and Poverty advanced a practical and moral case for supply-side economics and capitalism during the early months of the Reagan administration. He is married to Nini Gilder, and has four children.

George Gilder
George Gilder handwaving at CHM Apr 2005.jpg
Gilder in 2005
George Franklin Gilder[1]

(1939-11-29) November 29, 1939 (age 79)
New York City, New York, U.S.
EducationPhillips Exeter Academy
Alma materHarvard University
OccupationAuthor, editor-in-chief of Gilder Technology Report
Chairman, Gilder Publishing LLC
Senior Fellow Discovery Institute
Military career
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch U.S. Marine Corps

Early yearsEdit

Gilder was born in New York City and raised in New York and Massachusetts.[2] He is a great-grandson of designer Louis Comfort Tiffany.[3] His father, Richard Watson Gilder, was killed flying in the United States Army Air Forces in World War II when Gilder was three.

He spent most of his childhood with his mother, Anne Spring (Alsop), and his stepfather, Gilder Palmer, on a dairy farm in Tyringham, Massachusetts. David Rockefeller, a college roommate of his father, was deeply involved with his upbringing.[4]


Gilder attended Hamilton School in New York City, Phillips Exeter Academy, and Harvard University, graduating in 1962.[4] He later returned to Harvard as a fellow at the Harvard Institute of Politics, and edited the Ripon Forum, the newspaper of the liberal Republican Ripon Society.

Marine CorpsEdit

Gilder served in the United States Marine Corps.[5]



In the 1960s Gilder served as a speechwriter for several prominent officials and candidates, including Nelson Rockefeller, George W. Romney, and Richard Nixon. He worked as a spokesman for the liberal Republican Senator Charles Mathias, as antiwar protesters surrounded the capital; some eventually scared Gilder out of his apartment. Gilder moved to Harvard Square the following year, and he became a writer who modeled himself after Joan Didion.

With his college roommate, Bruce Chapman, he wrote an attack on the anti-intellectual policies of the 1964 Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, The Party That Lost Its Head (1966). He later recanted this attack: "The far Right — the same men I dismissed as extremists in my youth — turned out to know far more than I did. At least the 'right-wing extremists', as I confidently called them, were right on almost every major policy issue from welfare to Vietnam to Keynesian economics and defense — while I, in my Neo-Conservative sophistication, was nearly always wrong."[6]

Supply-side economicsEdit

Supply-side economics was formulated in the mid-1970s by Jude Wanniski and Robert L. Bartley at The Wall Street Journal as a counterweight to the reigning "demand-side" Keynesian economics. At the center of the concept was the Laffer curve, the idea that high tax rates reduce government revenue. Its opponents often refer to it as "trickle-down economics".

Inspired by Wanniski and by the works of free-market economists like Murray Rothbard, Ludwig von Mises, Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek and novelist Ayn Rand,[7] Gilder wrote a book extending the ideas of his Visible Man (1978) into the realm of economics, to balance his theory of poverty with a theory of wealth.[8] The book, published as the best-selling Wealth and Poverty in 1981, communicated the ideas of supply-side economics to a wide audience in the United States and the world.[9]

Gilder also contributed to the development of supply-side economics when he served as Chairman of the Lehrman Institute's Economic Roundtable, as Program Director for the Manhattan Institute, and as a frequent contributor to Laffer's economic reports and the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal.[10]


In the 1990s, he became an enthusiastic evangelist of technology and the Internet. He uncovered emerging trends in several books and his newsletter, the Gilder Technology Report.[11]

The first mention of the word "Digerati" on USENET occurred in 1992 and referred to an article by Gilder in Upside magazine. His other books include Life After Television, a 1990 book that predicted microchip "telecomputers" connected by fiberoptic cable would make broadcast-model television obsolete. The book was also notable for being published by the Federal Express company and featuring full-page advertisements for that company on every fifth page.[12]

Gilder wrote the books Microcosm, about Carver Mead and the CMOS microchip revolution; Telecosm, about the promise of fiber optics; and his latest, The Silicon Eye, about the Foveon X3 sensor, a digital camera imager chip. The book cover of the Silicon Eye reads, "How a Silicon Valley Company Aims to Make All Current Computers, Cameras, and Cell Phones Obsolete." The Foveon sensor has not achieved this goal and has not yet been used in cell phones.

Gilder is an active investor in private companies and serves as the chairman of the advisory board in Israel-based ASOCS that he discovered during his research for Israel Test.[13]

On women and feminismEdit

In the early 1970s, Gilder wrote an article in the Ripon Forum defending President Richard Nixon's veto of a day-care bill sponsored by Senator Walter Mondale (D-Minnesota) and Senator Jacob Javits (R-New York). He was fired as editor as a result.[4] To defend himself, he appeared on Firing Line. He discovered that he had found "a way to arouse the passionate interest of women ... it was clear I had reached pay dirt." He decided to make himself into "America's number-one antifeminist".[14]

Gilder moved to New Orleans and worked in the mornings for Ben Toledano, Republican candidate for the United States Senate in 1972 and the party's nominee for mayor of New Orleans in 1970. Also, he wrote Sexual Suicide (1973), revised and reissued as Men and Marriage (1986). He argued that the welfare state and feminism broke the "sexual constitution" that had weaned men off their predatory instinct for sex, war, and the hunt, and it had subordinated them to women as fathers and providers. The book achieved a succès de scandale and Time made Gilder "Male Chauvinist Pig of the Year."[4]

He also stated that divorce "does spread poverty, and bitterness, and feminism, and other problems."[15]

Race and welfareEdit

Gilder also wrote Visible Man: A True Story of Post-Racist America (1978, reissued in 1995), which The New York Times described in 1981 as "the account of a talented young black spoiled by the too-ready indolence of America's welfare system."[16]

Support for immigrationEdit

Gilder has praised mass immigration as an economic boon in both the US and Israel. Although Gilder's support for mass immigration is framed by high tech hubs such as Silicon Valley's need for computer programmers, he sees recent American immigration policy as being vital to American prosperity overall.[better source needed][17]

The American SpectatorEdit

Gilder bought the conservative political monthly magazine The American Spectator from its founder, Emmett Tyrrell, in the summer of 2000, switching the magazine's focus from politics to technology.[18]

Experiencing his own financial problems in 2002,[19] Gilder sold the Spectator back to Tyrrell.[20]

Regular contributorEdit

He makes regular contributions to Forbes as a contributing editor. He also contributes to The Wall Street Journal, Wired and National Review.

Speaking engagementsEdit

For nearly thirty years, he has lectured internationally on economics, technology, education, and social theory. He has addressed audiences from Washington, DC, to the Vatican, and he has appeared at numerous conferences, public policy events, and media outlets.

Demonstrating his interest in the future of innovation-driven education models, in 2009 Gilder delivered the opening keynote address at the annual EduComm Conference, a nationwide gathering of higher education leaders pursuing breakthrough technologies with the potential to transform the college experience. His annual Telecosm Conference, which he hosts with Steve Forbes, draws technology leaders, entrepreneurs, investors, engineers, and inventors from across the globe.

Today, his lectures often concern his 2009 book, The Israel Test, which deals with the relationship between entrepreneurship, innovation, and geopolitical stability.[citation needed]

Wealth and PovertyEdit

After completing Visible Man in the late 1970s Gilder began writing "The Pursuit of Poverty." In early 1981 Basic Books published the result as Wealth and Poverty. It was an analysis of the roots of economic growth. Reviewing it within a month of the inauguration of the Reagan Administration The New York Times reviewer called it "A Guide to Capitalism". It offered, he wrote, "a creed for capitalism worthy of intelligent people."[21] The book was a The New York Times bestseller[22] and eventually sold over a million copies.[23]

In Wealth and Poverty Gilder extended the sociological and anthropological analysis of his early books in which he had advocated for the socialization of men into service to women through work and marriage. He wove these sociological themes into the economic policy prescriptions of supply-side economics. The breakup of the nuclear family and the policies of demand-side economics led to poverty. Family and supply-side policies led to wealth.

In reviewing the problems of the immediate past—the inflation, recession, and urban problems of the 1970s—and proposing his supply-side solutions, Gilder argued not just the practical but the moral superiority of supply-side capitalism over the alternatives. "Capitalism begins with giving," he asserted, while New Deal liberalism created moral hazard. It was work, family, and faith that created wealth out of poverty. "It is this supply-side moral vision that underlies all the economic arguments of Wealth and Poverty," he wrote.[24]

In 1994 Gilder wrote that the poor in America are “ruined by the overflow of American prosperity” and “moral decay” and that they are in need of "Christian teaching from the churches."[15]

The Israel TestEdit

Gilder's 2009 book The Israel Test is partly described as Gilder calling Israel as a leader of civilization.[citation needed]

Intelligent designEdit

He helped found the Discovery Institute with Bruce Chapman. The organization started as a moderate group that aimed to privatize and modernize Seattle's transit systems.[citation needed] It later became the leading thinktank of the intelligent design movement, with Gilder writing many articles for intelligent design and against the theory of evolution.[25][26]


Publications by GilderEdit

  • The Party That Lost Its Head Alfred A. Knopf; 1st edition (1966). With Bruce Chapman.
  • Sexual Suicide (1973)
  • Naked Nomads: Unmarried Men in America (1974)
  • Visible Man: A True Story of Post-Racist America (1978)
  • Wealth and Poverty (1981)
  • Men and Marriage (1986)
  • Life After Television (1990)
  • Microcosm: The Quantum Revolution In Economics And Technology (1989)
  • Recapturing the Spirit of Enterprise
  • Telecosm: The World After Bandwidth Abundance (2000)
  • The Meaning of the Microcosm
  • The Silicon Eye: How a Silicon Valley Company Aims to Make All Current Computers, Cameras, and Cell Phones Obsolete (2005)
  • The Silicon Eye: Microchip Swashbucklers and the Future of High-Tech Innovation (2006)
  • The Israel Test (2009)
  • Knowledge and Power: The Information Theory of Capitalism and How it is Revolutionizing our World (2013)
  • The Scandal of Money (2016)
  • Life after Google (2018)

Publications with contributions by GilderEdit

  • Gilder, George (2002). "Computer Industry". In David R. Henderson (ed.). Concise Encyclopedia of Economics (1st ed.). Library of Economics and Liberty. OCLC 317650570, 50016270, 163149563


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ "The Gilder Effect". The New Yorker. Retrieved September 25, 2019.
  3. ^ [2]
  4. ^ a b c d MacFarquhar, Larissa (May 29, 2000), The Gilder Effect
  5. ^ Gilder anecdotally writes about his time in the Marine Corps in this Forbes article.
  6. ^ Gilder, George (March 5, 1982), "Why I am Not a Neo-Conservative", National Review, 34 (4): 219–20
  7. ^ Chait, Jonathan (September 14, 2009) Wealthcare, The New Republic
  8. ^ Gilder, George (1993), Wealth and Poverty, ICS Press, p. xi, ISBN 1-55815-240-7
  9. ^ Gilder 1993, p. xv.
  10. ^ Discovery institute biography
  11. ^ "The Gilder Effect", The New Yorker
  12. ^ David Foster Wallace, "E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction", Review of Contemporary Fiction, 185
  13. ^
  14. ^ Faludi, Susan (1991), Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women, Crown, p. 285, ISBN 0-517-57698-8
  15. ^ a b Gilder, George (March–April 1994), "Freedom from Welfare Dependency", Religion & Liberty
  16. ^ Roger Starr: A Guide To Capitalism. The New York Times, February 1, 1981.
  17. ^ Gilder, George (December 18, 1995), "Geniuses from Abroad", Wall Street Journal, archived from the original on October 8, 2011
  18. ^ York, Byron (November 2001), "The Life and Death of the American Spectator", The Atlantic Monthly
  19. ^ Prince, Marcello (May 8, 2006), "Where Are They Now: George Gilder", The Wall Street Journal
  20. ^ Kurtz, Howard (June 10, 2002). "The News That Didn't Fit To Print". The Washington Post.
  21. ^ Starr, Roger (February 1, 1981), "A Guide to Capitalism", The New York Times
  22. ^ Adult New York Times Best Seller List for April 12, 1981
  23. ^ Faludi 1991, p. 289.
  24. ^ Gilder 1993, p. xxii.
  25. ^ Chris C. Mooney, "Inferior Design", The American Prospect, September 2005, excerpt from The Republican War on Science (2005)
  26. ^ George Gilder, "Evolution and Me" National Review, July 17, 2006

External linksEdit