I know this is impossible, but wouldn’t it be great if everybody was paid a salary proportional to how much they actually helped humanity? In my book, then, stock traders or hedge fund analysts would get smaller salaries than they do now -- sorry to all of my friends who have chosen the financial world; while I think you’re great people and some of you have helped individuals make some money, I think we all agree that most of you are not helping humanity out in proportion to your multi-million dollar salaries. On the other hand, farmers should be making bank -- no farmers, no food; no food = bad.
My question then is, if salaries worked this way, how much should scientists or professors be paid? More specifically, how much should computer science professors make? I became a professor in part because I wanted to help the world. But am I actually doing so? What does it mean to help the world? How do we measure this? Carnegie Mellon pays me a very healthy salary (although I wouldn’t mind a raise, boss), but I’d like to think that professors are underpaid compared to how much they would make in such a utopian system. It's not clear to me they are.