If first world economies and wealth are fueled by breakthroughs rather than incremental progress, it might be good public policy to reward those breakthroughs appropriately. The problem is that we don't always - and fact, rarely - know when real, lasting innovation is happening. Nicholas Nassim Taleb has said that fantastic events regularly materialize to change the course of history. And Clay Shirky is one of the most thoughtful writers on one such event, the economics of everybody. Forty-odd years into the latest revolution and the issues are still be sorted.
The point is that it'll all look clear in hindsight. The problem is no one really knows with certainty what's happening now.
But given the recent economic mess, perhaps it's safe to say that speculators rather than creators have taken home the bulk of the money up for grabs. At Forbes, Sramana Mitra expands on the distinction just a little.
Much has been written recently about Ayn Rand's classic, Atlas Shrugged. In Rand's book, the captains of industry went on strike when the government decided to practice wealth redistribution on an unacceptable scale. In our modern society, the problem we are facing is substantially more complex. It is no longer a government versus private sector issue. There's a terrible triangle of competing interests: the creators (those who add value) versus the speculators versus the government.
Having passed from mercantilism to industrialism to globalized uncertainty, we know that industry, too, changes. Here's hoping the creators get theirs.