You make a huge point here that is easy to overlook/forget. There was time when loot and salvage were worth your time to come back and grab. I know the nerf had a lot to do with gun mining and it was probably in the best interest of the game that it was changed.
OTOH, it’s worth pointing out that the end game strategy of ninja salvaging/looting, though it’s mostly a lost art form today, used to be an insanely profitable profession. Mission runners who like nothing more than “leveling up their Ravens” will often bling out their ships to ridiculous degrees. It used to be pretty easy to kill several of these a month and along with ransoms, loot, salvage, valuable tags and contracted mission objectives, it was an easy, sustainable play style.