I just can't get to the main topic, can I? Well, I suppose the elephant and rider is the main topic. Broke that rule last night, yelling at a rider on FB. It never works, but some people deserve it when they are disguising how insulting they are being, even to themselves.
Additional thoughts on free riders: in an interdependent world, we are all free riders some time or other. In terms of giving and receiving from the government, there is the mortgage interest deduction, and even those who paid in to Social Security will be receiving from others someday. If there weren't a lot of societal surplus out there, we couldn't afford to send lots of young people to college, even without all the government subsides of it. Yet it turns out to be an investment that benefits us all in some cases, so we fund that temporarily. (Less true every year, I think.) That may be part of the extra ire students draw from conservatives. However much they may be valuable to us all in the future, right this minute they are free riders, yet they don't seem to apprehend that.
Corporate welfare, or being employed by governments or nonprofits can sometimes be free riding, though it is tough to nail down exactly who is shirking and who is providing benefit to society. I have spoken to liberals who just believe in their heart of hearts that "just moving money around" is not respectable employment and drains value from the common pool, however much you try to explain to them that we would all still be in the Dark Ages without it. Managing a hedge fund is just evil. They know that. I have spoken to conservatives who consider nonprofit advocacy groups to be drains on society, and most if not all government employees likewise. No amount of reasoning dents them. They know better. The natural extension of that would be to consider everyone who isn't creating food, clothing, or shelter to be a free rider. Tough world to live in.
We have all received things we have not worked for or deserved, but tend to forget those. It's human nature. Even people who are clear free riders will denounce other free riders they believe are worse. If you want to locate benefit cheats, in fact, the best people to ask are other benefit receivers. They know them, they see them, they know what the rules are and who is breaking them. All of us, it seems, look mostly in one direction when considering free riders.
Which brings me to the free riders that we know best: family. We all know a fair number - the sister who always borrows money from Mom and Dad, the nephew who sponges off your brother, the aunt who successfully cheated other family out of various bits of valuable inheritance. We judge harshly because we know, or think we know, what they really should be capable of and how they don't care.