Shouldn’t Government Scientists Earn More?

Just caught up with the recent Sunderland conflict-of-interest case. Pearson Sunderland, chief of geriatric psychiatry was not discharged from his NIH position, but given two years probation and will have to pay back the $300,000 in fees that he received from Pfizer over a five-year period. Such cases are disturbing, and we're seeing many more of them.  Not to condone this behavior in any way, but...Could there be an easy way to end this trend and eliminate temptation by simply increasing the salaries of government researchers? Nobody does (or should) go into biomedical research for the money, of course, but salaries appear to be way off base, if the AAAS annual survey is any indicator. Presumably Dr. Sunderland was paid more than the $110K per year that senior government researchers in his age category earn.  The average salary is just over $70,000 per year. But I know of rookie marketing people who earn more than that, people who can barely distinguish left from right and who couldn't really tell you what the technologies they are marketing do, much less encapsulate what the science behind them is. Considering the time and training, and sacrifice, involved in pursuing a research career, not to mention the need to attract more young people to the field...couldn't this be an investment in the future? -AMS