US: Eisenhower described and warned against the rise of an interlocking complex of private contractors and government “defense” organizations that threaten democracy with consolidated power and control over research, national policy, and public opinion:
Eisenhower’s Farewell Address. Reading copy of the speech [DDE’s Papers as President, Speech Series, Box 38, Final TV Talk (1); NAID #594599]. Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Presidential Home, Abilene Kansas. Accessed October 6, 2015. Available: http://www.eisenhower.archives.gov/research/online_documents/farewell_address/Reading_Copy.pdf
Eisenhower’s concerns about the rise of the military industrial complex were echoed by many other observers of the time, but his comments are especially relevant given the unique vantage points offered by his biographical experiences in the U.S. military and executive branches.
The greatest risk to liberal democracy is endogenous, internal to the institutional structures founding liberal societies.
Regulatory capture is a symptom of the centralization of ownership and decision making in our critical financial, energy, and food infrastructures, among others. Regulatory capture erodes liberal democracy from within.
We see instances of regulatory capture far too often, as recently illustrated:
Oliver Moody. December 28, 2016. Nuclear safety watchdog under review after series of accidents. The Financial Times, http://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/nuclear-safety-watchdog-under-review-after-series-of-accidents-w8x79d8q3
Whitehall is investigating the nuclear regulator after The Times revealed that several serious accidents had been dismissed as posing no safety risk. The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has come under fire from experts who argue it is too close to the industry to police it rigorously.
Yesterday an investigation disclosed that the inadvertent discharge of a torpedo at a nuclear submarine docks in Plymouth, a complete power cut at the country’s nuclear weapons base and the contamination of at least 15 workers with radioactive material were among the events it had said were of no concern.Lack of adequate regulatory safety has been a problem since the beginning of the nuclear industry. Decision-making in this industry is centralized and too often suborned by purposes counter to the public welfare, as I demonstrate in my academic research.
The government of radiation is predicated upon the idea that “low levels” of contamination produced by the nuclear-industrial-military complex pose relatively few and predictable risks to impacted human populations and ecologies. Consequently, using cost-benefit analyses of radiation risks and benefits, government agencies in nuclear nations allow routine contamination by radionuclides, although each nation sets official limits and deploys government bureaucracies to monitor and evaluate exposure levels.
Decades ago, authorities from governmental regulatory agencies and from nongovernmental organizations such as the International Committee for Radiation Protection created permissible exposure for human populations levels based on uniform, mathematical models of dose effects.
However, most extant models for governing radiation flows and exposures fail to incorporate salient bodies of knowledge about radiation ecology and genetic mutagenesis carved out scientifically during the Cold War, primarily by authorities whose research was funded by the nuclear complex.
Radiation has operated as a “privileged pollutant” and the current trend in some countries, such as the US, has been to raise allowable exposure levels, rather than to decrease them.
I have blogged about regulatory capture in the US and Japan quite extensively. Here are some examples of problems I've discussed:
Kageyama, Yuri (2012, Nov 4) Inspector Authority Accepted Money. The Arizona Republic, A4.
[Excerpted] (AP) "Four members of a Japanese government team that sets atomic reactor safety standards received funding from utility companies or nuclear manufacturers, raising questions about their neutrality in the wake of last year's tsunami-triggered disaster. [end excerpt]
New nuclear regulatory body not to continue 'stress tests' The Mainichi Sep 25, 2012 http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20120925p2g00m0dm030000c.html
[excerpted] (Kyodo) -- Japan's new nuclear regulatory authority will not continue the current procedure to assess the safety of reactors for their reactivation because it plans to create fresh criteria, the authority's head Shunichi Tanaka said Monday.
"We will not use 'stress tests' as our judgment criteria," Tanaka said in an interview with Kyodo News, referring to the two-stage safety examination process that the government introduced after the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi complex erupted in March last year.... But Tanaka's remarks mean that utilities will have to go back to square one in trying to restart their reactors....
Dumping tritium from Fukushima into sea is best option: ministry THE ASAHI SHIMBUN, April 20, 2016 at 14:55 http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201604200041.html
The industry ministry concluded that releasing diluted radioactive tritium into the sea is the most feasible option in dealing with contaminated water accumulating at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
Regulatory capture is exacerbated by courts that uphold non-democratic processes for assessing risk from nuclear as illustrated here:
Court rejects appeal to halt operations of Sendai reactors April 6, 2016 THE ASAHI SHIMBUN http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201604060045.htmlThe judge's decision is not necessarily representative of majority public opinion in Japan given polling results conducted by Japan's mainstream news media.
MIYAZAKI--A high court here rejected an appeal by Kyushu residents seeking to shut down the only two nuclear reactors operating in Japan, ruling that it is impossible to secure absolute safety with nuclear energy. Presiding Judge Tomoichiro Nishikawa of the Miyazaki branch of the Fukuoka High Court said April 6 that current science and technology standards cannot reach a level of safety in which no radioactive materials are emitted regardless of the severity of the accident at a nuclear plant.
“A judgment has to be made based on the standard of what level of danger a society would be willing to live with,” Nishikawa said.
Regulatory capture of the judicial apparatus is perhaps the final death knell of liberal democracy.