I thought it was interesting when someone made the argument that if plugin authors wanted money, then the developers who contributed the most to the core of what makes WordPress should receive money as well. Well, this might become a reality when and if the WordPress Foundation is ever created. From examples of other Open Source Foundations, usually what happens is that funds are directed to those who contribute in hopes that they will continue to contribute or get new people to contribute full time. Until the WordPress Foundation is created, if it will ever be and there aren't any suggestions that it will (that I know of, this is hypothetical), then I don't think I would even take money even if it was offered. I didn't jump into the development of WordPress core and fix bugs, because I thought I could make money from it. I seen a problem and decided to fix it, because it would benefit me, that fact that it also benefited other people was a bonus. The most important factor was that it would benefit me. If any of the work I've done seemed selfless, then you don't know me well enough to realize that it was purely selfish reasons.
Not selfish in the way that I desired fame, fortune, or gratitude. Truthfully, I could still care less about that and I think those who seek those things will be sorely disappointed when they find that it doesn't work that way. I don't believe it should, but contributors have different motivations. People who work on core are not well known. Well, this is a generalization, I suppose that people know who Dion Helse is and several of the other people.
I suppose the problem is that while I'm not particularly well known, I'm not obscure either. Lorelle has mentioned my name at a few WordCamps (in relation to writing documentation). I have a feeling that many people were wondering about my name, "Who is that?" What I find interesting is that I can go to any given WordCamp and only a few people will know my name. Most know me, not from my work on the core, but for other reasons.
I think that is funny, I set out to create change and I only changed anything by attempting it myself and even that wasn't my original goal. Whether or not I changed anything else is debatable. Working on a project can be enjoyable, but expecting fame or money just isn't going to happen, unless you put yourself out there doing other things. By the end of next year, hardly anyone is going to know my name.
I suppose that is the cycle, except for the more veteran members.