Some jobs pay more than others, some jobs have better lifestyles than others (work hours, flexibility, schedule, stress, etc.), and some jobs are more interesting than others. Status has very little to do with it for me. Most people don't really know what the heck a physicist really does, anyway.
I do agree with you that it often helps to view these types of things as a a "game" we're all playing.
Right. But it depends on "how" the economy gets bad. And if it doesn't get bad at all, I might do really well with an engineering PhD but terribly with a physics PhD even if I think physics is more interesting.
FWIW I wasn't referring to you. I can see how you thought that because in my other threads you've probably given the most/best advice. I think you're actually pretty clear in that a physics PhD is generally poor in improving ones career and income.
What irks me are those that discourage others from even asking about career/salary when discussing physics careers. The kind of people that make posters qualify their questions with, "Now, I know I shouldn't be asking this, but..." when asking about career/salary. The fact is there is often a balance between interest and the sacrifices you are willing to make to get a PhD. For instance, I am leaning towards getting a PhD in biophysics or medical physics because I find those fields interesting and I think I will pick up skills while doing a PhD that will allow me to get an R&D or clinical job that I will really like and will pay reasonably well. I'm leaning away from doing particle theory because I doubt I could get a job I'd like as much as I would in the medical/biophysics fields EVEN THOUGH I find particle physics more interesting. Weighted probabilities of finding a job multiplied by interest, roughly speaking. If you told me I had to work 100 hours a week for 6 years to get a PhD and I'd be working retail when I was done because no one likes physics PhDs I probably wouldn't get it no matter how much I liked it.