Earning to Give, choosing a well-paying career so you have more to
donate to the best charities, is a strong contender for being the most
effective way of making the world better.  It allows you to have a clear positive
and avoids the replaceability
problems of trying to do good work directly. It's good enough that I
consider it the standard for effective altruism, the simple approach
that all others need to measure up to.
So it's a lower
bound, but the question is, how good a lower bound is it? If
you're willing to spend your life in whatever way does the most good
 do you work and donate or do something else?
Update 2013-06-09: more discussion
 If you have relatively high earnings capacity on a global scale.
 Which I'm not.
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