Many local governments are troubled over how to handle waste containing radioactive cesium, including sludge discharged from water and sewage treatment plants, and ash.According to surveys by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry and The Yomiuri Shimbun, more than 120,000 tons of such radioactive waste is being stored in Tokyo and 13 prefectures in the Tohoku and Kanto regions.Although the government aims to establish a new law to create a government-led framework to dispose of the waste, it is uncertain whether this will resolve the problem quickly.

via Radioactive waste worries local governments / Officials seek guidance from central authorities on how to permanently dispose of sludge, ash : National : DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE The Daily Yomiuri.

Is government helping or getting in the way? Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek wrote and spoke frequently about The Pretence of Knowledge. Essentially, it posits that there is a class of events or activities that are too complex for any person or group to manage:

“If man is not to do more harm than good in his efforts to improve the social order, he will have to learn that in this, as in all other fields where essential complexity of an organized kind prevails, he cannot acquire the full knowledge which would make mastery of the events possible. … The recognition of the insuperable limits to his knowledge ought indeed to teach the student of society a lesson of humility which should guard him against becoming an accomplice in men’s fatal striving to control society — a striving which makes him not only a tyrant over his fellows, but which may well make him the destroyer of a civilization which no brain has designed but which has grown from the free efforts of millions of individuals.”

The earthquake/tsunami/nuclear crisis is a trifecta of disaster that has revealed the inadequacies of government per se to handle.

Let’s do a thought experiment. Imagine that there is no government in Japan. Overnight, Kan and his cabinet have done a bunk. There is no central government to pass laws and tell people what they can and cannot do.

What would all the local governments do then? Who would they turn to?

And how about if they did that now? Many of them have been doing that, because the government did not respond in time, or not at all.

You might say, “But what about the funding? Local governments are faced with situations (cleanup of tsunami debris and radioactive materials, building a lot of temporary housing very fast, etc) which they cannot pay for. They need to be sure they will get central funds before they can make decisions!”

I say, “No more central funds. It’s all gone (Kan and his crew took it all with them)! Or imagine that it is. You’ll have to do without it.”

We may have to do without it yet. I don’t think this or any government can pay for what they are promising. Surprise, surprise, eh?

Wouldn’t it be funny if the entire Japanese Diet did a “John Galt“, and nobody missed them? The world didn’t collapse? Things got better?