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CEO Pay, Health Care, Undocumented Immigrants, Campaign for Youth, Traffic Congestion, and Responsible Business

CEO pay at large companies averaged $10.8 million in 2007, more than 364 times the pay of the average U.S. worker, with the top 20 private equity and hedge fund managers pocketing an average of $657.5 million each, or 22,255 times the pay of an average worker, according to a new report by the Institute for Policy Studies and United for a Fair Economy.  The report suggests ending tax subsidies for excessive executive pay, increasing income tax rates on the very wealthy, and denying government contracts to companies with wastefully high CEO pay.

One reason health care costs keep increasing is the explosion in employment in the health insurance industry, which has increased an astounding 52% in the last 10 years according to the Economic Policy Institute. This percentage increase dwarfs the percentage growth in actual caregivers -- doctors, nurses and others providing direct services -- which has been only 26%.

Adding to evidence that the supposed costs to taxpayers from undocumented immigrants is overblown, lawmakers in Arkansas received a report from state agencies that only a tiny proportion of state money goes to undocumented immigrants. In fact, the Arkansas Department of Health found that only $199,000 out of its $191 million budget went to maternity, newborn care, and immunizations for undocumented families and that processing identification documents to screen them out would cost $1.3 million, almost 10 times as much.

In a new strategy document, Our Youth, Our Economy, Our Future, the Campaign for Youth proposes a national investment strategy for "disconnected youth," defined as low-income youth suffering high drop-out rates and high levels of youth unemployment. The program emphasizes better coordination of existing programs and a stronger focus on creating "on ramps" for youth to reach higher-skill, higher-wage career opportunities.

In its 2007 Urban Mobility Report, the Texas Transportation Institute finds, unsurprisingly, that congestion is increasing all over the country, costing Americans 4.2 billion wasted hours and 2.9 billion gallons of wasted fuel for a financial cost of $78 billion. The report argues that it will take a combination of solutions to deal with the problem, from fixing choke-points to increasing mixed-use development and higher density in order to decrease commute times.

In The State of Responsible Business, the Ethical Investment Research Services (EIRIS) finds that North American companies significantly lag behind European companies in responsible business practices related to the environment, human rights, and labor standards, partly due to a weaker regulatory environment in the United States.