"What does you gut instinct say about a lawyer who is paid an average of a quarter of a million dollars for a year's work in which e puts an average of 2 innocent people in jail for six years each and donates on average 2% of er income (5000 dollars) to buying mosquito nets for third world children, saving on average 10 lives?"
You are forgetting the lawyer works to uphold the status quo. If that status quo ("the system") also makes arms dealers reach and invades third world countries or does other despicable things, the net effect of the lawyers actions can still be negative. Think about it as different math operators. You can name a number as big as you want but if I can change the sign of it, it will always be smaller than my small positive number.
"You seem to be considering the absolute worst case scenario, and adding in extraneous considerations to unfairly sway the argument to your side."
I was thrown a bit off balance by the pejorative "marxist propaganda". I don't want to post too much politics in this thread so this will be my last contribution.
"I might be missing something, but this (and the rest of your post) reads basically like Marxist propaganda."
Thank you. Marx was a very intelligent person who unraveled much of the inner workings of capitalism. His error was -- I think -- that there is something like a collective will of the people (a CEV, maybe) and that there is an effective way of measuring and implementing it. We all know how badly it turned out. But maybe the idea of harnessing collective greed is even worse because it seems flawed already from the beginning.
"Just about the only way to make a lot of money is to do something that other people want doing, and which you do better than average."
This is quite wrong. There is also a very big effort to prevent other people from acquiring things, and I don't just mean WMD. Maybe you could read up on the concept of artificial scarcity.
"... you're going to stick with your gut instinct that working for a high-powered law firm can't possibly be as good as working for a nice fluffy non-profit, and damn the numbers"
My gut instinct tells me a lawyer who in his day job secures a quarter of a billion dollar settlement with an evil regime to prevent legal persecution of an evil politician involved with a major weapons manufacturer, cannot offset this with buying a few mosquito nets for children in that same third world country.