"do you think you know a representative sample of developers?"
I never claimed to. But hey those are the people I know, "representative sample" or not! You asked for examples of programmers with autonomy so I gave a few. As I was writing that, I discovered that except those working on outsourced enterprise sw, most developers I know do have significant autonomy.
Sorry if that didn't answer your question sufficiently. A "representative sample" developer in Bangalore (where I live these days) has a job screwing around with mountains of crap outsourced code no one in the West wants to touch with layer after layer of management wielding the whip and micromanaging him. No autonomy there!