In his essay Mind the Gap, Paul Graham (a well known LISP supporter and brilliant programmer) defends that wealth is not something you steal away, that it is something you can create.
As an example he cites the wealth creation performed by Apple, driven by Steve Jobs, where the accrued value of the individual manufactured products is duly and rightly channelled through the company to the main inventors.
(Go read it, it is well written)
What bothered me however, is the missing link in his reasoning about the process of wealth creation. What is the true expense of creating wealth?
Crafting an idea, it can be argued, amounts to pure creation. Nothing is taken away and something new is creating.
Implementing the idea, however, definitely transforms certain things into other things that embody the idea. The transformation here can be either an assembly or an actual transformation: the individual parts can be either re-decomposed in the end or they are lost to create the new form. In either way, implementation takes away the material ingredients of the creation from their provider.
Wealth creation supposedly still occurs because the value of the created object should exceed the sum of the ingredient values. The question remains however:
Is the created wealth enough to compensate both the inventor/creator and the provider of the individual ingredients?
And as a secundary, but no less important concern:
If it is indeed enough, are the ingredient providers getting their share?
It is likely that the creators/inventors at Apple are getting at least a fair share of the wealth they have been creating. However, one can observe at the same time that the providers of the raw materials stay in relative poverty.
Hence the real question, what is the true cost of creating wealth? It seems obvious that wealth creation bears a responsibility (that of fair redistribution) which is rarely properly assumed. I wonder what Paul Graham would have to say about this.