Who approves the pay increases and golden parachutes?
Oh yes the CEOs.
No, they don't. From the link:
If bosses set the salaries of their workers, who decides what the bosses earn? In a modern corporation, the task of setting the CEO's pay falls to the board of directors, typically a subgroup of board members on its compensation committee.
What they can get away is what you're worth. If your services were worth more, someone else would steal you away with better compensation.
If executive pay is rising across the board (that is, every company is paying more), all that means is that the level of compensation required to keep an executive at a particular company is rising. You might argue that executive pay is greater than executive productivity, but that raises an obvious question: Why are they being paid that much? Are companies all stupid? It seems like these companies would realize at some point that they could offer lower pay and achieve the same results.
It's a moot point as science (funding) is dead in the US anyway. Most young scientists are leaving to work elsewhere, especially those with international experience.
I'm friends with a fair number of US-trained young scientists, and the only ones I know who are planning to leave the country can't stay because they aren't US citizens. A small minority (~15% or so) plan to seek or currently have temporary postdoctoral positions overseas, but I doubt that many intend to make that arrangement permanent. I might add that I personally have experience doing research in another country, and I have no inclination whatsoever to leave the US. I admit that my personal, anecdotal evidence isn't proof against a larger trend, but it does make me suspicious. What makes you believe that "most" young scientists are departing the US?
You don't get to be excused from policies, laws, regulations, etc. just because they "offend your belief system".
Actually, in some cases you do, and it's not just about kowtowing to stupid religious people. It's an important tenet of limited government. Specifically, it's one reason that religious freedom (which protects the right of atheists to be atheists, too, btw) is enshrined in the first amendment of the US Constitution. It's also reflects the fact that our government is supposed to be "of the people, by the people, and for the people," as Lincoln put it in the Gettysburg Address. We are citizens of the US, not subjects or slaves of its government. We live in a pluralistic society where everyone has different ideas about the ultimate authority that they are answerable to, and the concept of religious freedom stems at least in part from the recognition that government has no business picking from among them. As far as it's practical (and perhaps a little farther, because we ought to err on the side of individual liberty), we should refrain from coercing people to do things that violate their firmly held convictions.
There's actually a pretty recent law about this that's been getting a little press because of the HHS contraception mandate. It's called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and it basically prohibits the passage of laws that create a substantial burden to religious freedom unless the government has a really good reason for doing it, and also the law in question is the least intrusive way of going about it.
The rich wells are in the USA, they contain up to 2 % helium within the natural gas. But the United States decided to sell their strategic helium reserve five years ago, driving prices down.
It's entirely possible that the price of purified He is currently so low that re-purifying it isn't cost effective.