The best workers do it for love, and are treated with the best resources. The mediocre does do it for money, and are thrown money.
The problem with this specific quote is... I can't tell if you are being genuine and really mean this, or are cynically saying this to reduce how much you would have to pay employees.
I hope you can see that, from my point of view, based on this comment, there is no way for me to tell what kind of person you are. Because someone who wants to manipulate their employees would say the exact same thing.
Finally, I hardly think it's wrong to ask employers to return even a small part of their VAST fortunes to their employees who creates the opportunity for the profit to be made.
I encourage anyone with skin in the game to read the court documents, they are easy to read and really lay out the case for how anti-recruitment agreements (whereby Google agreed not to directly recruit from Apple and vice versa) directly affect overall pay scale. It is laid out clearly, concretely, and isn't just a wishful case. There are a few solid narratives which I think will put google under severe pressure at trial (eg: giving EVERY employee a 10% raise because of Facebook's aggressive recruiting).
First off, it's a FACT that Google's (and other companies) agreements are illegal. That isn't even what this case is about - the DOJ came to a settlement and Google is no longer allowed to make such agreements. This case is about wage impact and class impact. Now that the class action was certified by a judge, there is good chance that in a trial a connection between the illegal activities the companies in question were conducting and class-impact and wages were affected.
Since you used to work at Google, presumably you're a smart person, I hope you can see how your own personal feelings about how recruiters from other companies should or should not behave have little bearing on the actual illegal activities that Google was undertaking.
Now, as a Google employee, you certainly know about the pay bands, right? That your pay is not at the sole discretion of your hiring manager or your manager, but set in a company wide policy that employees of job title X get paid between $A - $B with GSU/RSU/option grants in a specific range as well. There are pay bands for every single title in the company (except maybe executives). Google (and Intel, and many companies) make it a high priority to keep internal equity between employees at given titles (eg: SRE II), so if too many employees were being recruited away and retained they would have to adjust pay, either by giving promotions or adjusting pay bands.
As we know, Google had to elect to do the latter. In response to Facebook recruiting, Google gave across the board 10% raises, and specific raises to SRE titles as well. This is all laid out in court discovery, and is a fact, even Google's lawyers dont deny that.
The class filing has a lot of discovery, a strong narrative, and statistical modeling to demonstrate there was "class wide impact" (aka YOU were affected by your coworkers inability to discover their true worth via getting unsolicited job offers).
Now, finally, you said "some people have argued... shouldn't even be actively be contacting candidates." The question is
I think a lot of your arguments are around the notion of definitions of "aggressive", polite or decorum. Legally speaking there isnt any distinction here, and I am not sure the common good is benefited by restricting the function of the market of jobs and employees.
There are literally people dying on this planet for lack of fresh water and this is just used as hydraulic fluid and then thrown into the ocean while ships pass by. Everything is wrong with this.
Have you ever considered the cost involved transporting fresh water to those who need it?
It's cheaper to dig a canal than to widen one, because you're going to be digging through a bunch of dry land with no special engineering issues. Then you knock the ends out. It's cheaper still if they import a bunch of Chinese slave labor.
Even cheaper when you use local Nicaraguan slave labor.
If all else fails, lower your standards.