It doesn't work and can't work. Given a sector with competing firms, there is little incentive or even possibility for one organization to tackle any problem scientifically on behalf of society.
Any particular firm would usually only be responsible for a small fraction of any societal problem, and it is barely feasible for it to investigate social issues properly, much less take remedial action. Nor would it be financially and competitively appropriate.
Some self-regulation may be possible. So industry-wide umbrella organizations may have a contribution to make. However, there is an immediate conflict of interest between the needs and interests of member firms and those of wider society. In any case, no business can compel others to alter their behaviour in the sort of free society established in the priorphase.
There is, however, room for industry-based reports that contribute to government policy.
Technocrats and scientists may lobby for technical solutions to social problems, while underplaying or avoiding vested interests, neglecting the moral dimension and lacking any mandate in regard to altering customs or servicing local community needs.
But resolving problems in society is far more subtle and complex than solving an academic puzzle in a university research lab.
All academic products are eminently suitable for an ideal world «where everything is held constant». Applying such solutions in a tumultuous socio-political environment can be disastrous. Economics is probably the best example of unrealistic expectations, both within the discipline and from without.
In the UK and former Commonwealth countries, a Royal Commissions (RC) is an ad hoc body created to develop a deep understanding of an important and controversial societal topic and to use this understanding to make non-binding recommendations.
RCs are set up with legal and expert members, as well as suitable lay people. The Chairman has considerable powers, greater even than a judge, but he must work to terms of reference that are politically set.
The final report, with its analyses and recommendations, may emerge well beyond the term of the government that instituted the inquiry, and may serve as a powerful point of reference for several years.
The RC has powers to collect evidence taken under oath, to seize documents even if «classified», to hold hearings in camera, and to commission research. Importantly, once started, an RC cannot be stopped by government.
Such powerful bodies are required to deal with organized crime, to handle abuse of power by senior officials or police, and to expose instances of endemic corruption at the highest levels within the political classes.
Often the politician resigns or retires, or laws are quickly passed to prevent or pre-empt legal action, or the subsequent political leader gives a pardon in advance.
Corruption in pursuit of power and wealth is endemic, incentivized and viewed as unavoidable in politics at this Stage. As modern nations have got no futher, we, the little people, must all live with this fact. We must never forget it until such a culture gets consigned to history as an aberration based on primitive thinking and confused awareness. This taxonomic inquiry will soon indicate how we may change matters.
As confirmation of the current state of play, credible reasons to prosecute, indict or impeach supreme political leaders are rather common. There have been examples in recent times in the major Western countries like USA (Nixon, Bush), UK (Blair), France (Chirac), Italy (Berlusconi), Israel (Olmert); and also in Asia: Taiwan (Chen Shui-bian), South Korea (Roh Moo-hyun), Thailand (Thaksin); as well as in African and South American countries.
Originally posted: July 2009; Last updated: 27 Jan 2010