There is an article in the New York Times about the decline in number of taxonomists. More generally, the article is about people's increasing disconnect from nature, and especially from recognizing different living things around them. I've seen this first hand and have been surprised, for example, that many of the students in my invert zoology class grew up in CA, but never visited a tidepool before the class. These are people with passion enough for biology to declare it as a major.
As for alpha taxonomy, I've also witnessed the decline in professional prestige for writing species descriptions (see post here). Just last month, two undergraduate students and I discovered a new species of Euphilomedes (ostracod crustacean) on our collecting trip to Panama (the trip is a reason why no posts here for a while). We are thinking of describing it officially. But is this good training for me to teach them how to do this? Will the skills be at all useful in their future?
We were also joking about auctioning naming rights on e-bay. Some taxonomists are against this, but I am all for it.
Yet naming new species CAN actually lead to significant scientific cache. Witness several new species of annelid worms, described in Science. They shoot out green bioluminescent bombs, presumably to distract predators (not unlike the function of bioluminescence in Vargula hilgendorfii).