“That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, . . .”
By WJ Anthony
All Governments have responsibilities; most have many responsibilities; big Governments have more than others.
Responsibility should be pertinent to our recent and present plans after the powerful earthquakes and the tsunami hit Japan and brought the immense consequences of death and destruction.
At the tine of this writing, the news sources are reporting that six nuclear–powered energy plants have been swamped by the huge tsunami ocean wave that caused explosions to erupt in the containment chambers where nuclear rods previously heated water into steam that powered the electrical generators to produce electricity for much of Japan’s electrical grid. As the heated water changed to steam, more water had to be supplied to the containment chambers to absorb the heat caused by the radiation from the rods. The tsunami caused the pumps to fail to move the water out of the chamber as steam to generate electricity and provide the chamber with cool water, the unmoved water in the chamber became superheated with the demand to expand as steam and exploded through the roof of the chamber, damaging the rods of nuclear fuel, which then spread as a flood of radiation to the surrounding vicinities.
The expanding area of radiation from the explosions of the heat generating chambers of the power plants caused thousands of people to try to flee from being contaminated by severe radiation dangers. They also tried to flee the collapsing infrastructure of the area, and many sought to flee from Japan itself, but have been unable to obtain passage to leave the areas. News reports say that foreign airlines have refused to evacuate refugees from Japan, because exposed people may carry radiation dangers with them.
The explosions and the spreading contamination of nuclear radiation dismantled or destroyed much of Japan’s infrastructure and transportation on the northern islands. Thousands of people perished or drowned in the tsunami and thousands of others were never found. These are only some of the consequences of the record earthquake that caused the tsunami.
With that in mind, it is appropriate to ask some questions.
What is the responsibility of Government in such an event?
Who decided to build those reactors in locations that could be engulfed by a tsunami flood of ocean water?
Do private corporations own the reactors?
Who designed the reactors?
When were their designs created?
When were they built?
Were they designed and built by Japanese engineers?
Were they designed and built by American engineers, working for American corporations?
Why did the officials of Japanese Government allow the nuclear reactors to be built where they were located?
Who is responsible for the location of the nuclear reactors?
Who could be charged with the responsibility for choosing those reactors and those locations?
Why aren’t the news sources revealing the answers to these important questions?
Will the Japanese Government decide on who will be responsible for future decisions, regarding nuclear-powered reactors for electricity generation?
Will people of other countries decide on who will be responsible for future decisions, regarding nuclear-powered reactors for electricity generation?
How are we the people responsible for Government?
The second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence suggests some basic understandings:
“That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accused. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.”
For any Government to secure the unalienable Rights of people, it must derive its just powers from the consent of the People. The people must have and use their power to require officials of Government to be responsible for what they do, so that in Lincoln’s words at Gettysburg “this nation under God, shall have a new birth of freedom … and that government of the people … by the people … for the people … shall not perish from the earth.” And, nowadays we should remember the past in planning our future.
If we were to ask the best informed historian to explain how many governments have been “instituted among Men,” would that historian or any other expert be able to give us a number as an answer?
Think about what a Webster Standard Dictionary said, “Government is a form by which a community is arranged.”
If that is an acceptable definition, then we might ask,
How many Governments has humanity instituted on Earth, during the centuries of mankind’s millennial history?
How many ‘types’ of Governments have there been?
How many types of communities have been ‘instituted’ by mankind?
Communities have been built in many shapes. Knowledgeable sociologists and political scientists might tell us that communities, as Governments, are important if people want to secure their rights.
Did the authors of the Declaration of Independence capitalize the word Government so those who might read it would give it a respect for what it must do? The ‘must do’ isn’t always easy.
Do American or Japanese governments successfully accomplish that role? All governments secure some services that secure some rights for their people; some are better at doing that than other governments. Most American and Japanese people expect their Governments to successfully arrange their rights to use public roads, turn on the city water to their sinks and bathtubs, turn on the lights or hear their furnace automatically start to warm their home or building.
But all that changed on Japan’s northern island, when a tsunami of the earth obliterated all the coastal life of its society.
When a city or county in America plows the snow from the streets and roads in their neighborhood, the people feel satisfied, expecting that they would be able to go to their job or shop for food or have their children attend school that day.
Like the best-laid plans of mice and men, the pumps of New Orleans were unable to prevent the waters of the Mississippi from destroying New Orleans.
American and Japanese people are reminded at night that they have fire and police protection, when they hear the sirens of emergency crews rushing to the persons in need of their help. But on the northern island of Japan, it wasn’t possible to find fire and police protection to throw back the 15 meter-high tsunami wave that drowned many people and swept many others away as debris, after the earthquake.
People from rural areas in America and Japan were aware of the reason that our city toilets flush; there are water and sewage treatment plants that make safe water and sewage a common experience every day at any hour. They knew that it happens because elder people, at some time in the past and at present, have arranged to organize a community of some sort, a town, city, or village, a state and also a national government with the responsibility and facilities to secure for all the people certain services that individual persons could not provide by themselves as individuals, such as safe water and sewage.
The tsunami destroyed the facilities and services of Japanese people in the northern island and affected life even in Tokyo. And the New Orleans flood destroyed the facilities and services of Americans in the flooded neighborhoods of New Orleans.
Do our American Governments have an appropriate method by which people can give their consent to a Government decision before the decision becomes a policy? A few persons are officially vested with the responsibility to establish a rule or policy, by which a process will take place as a consequence of a decision that they make for Government. Decision-makers may be elected by the people to decide how to do a task or they may be appointed by elected officials to make such decisions. Whoever makes the decision will be considered responsible for the outcome of consequences.
Who in America was responsible for the destruction of the World Trade Center or the flood that destroyed New Orleans?
Who decided to erect the nuclear-powered plants in those ocean-side locations of Japan?
The Declaration of Independence says, “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
That suggests that it is necessary for people to be able to consent or reject the powers of Government.
Do most Japanese people have only a limited opportunity to consent or reject or participate in the powers of Government functions? Most Japanese and Americans perform daily work at some occupation, by which they earn the money to purchase the goods and services of a standard of living that they need.
Do Japanese and American workers have enough time and opportunity to operate their jobs and also know how to perform some role in government? The answer is obviously no. Workers elect officials to hire or appoint qualified people to operate their government responsibilities.
So, all things considered, who is responsible for the failure of Government to secure the Safety and Happiness of Americans and Japanese people during a natural disaster? Who made the decisions? Lives were lost. Will we make the same mistakes in the future? Is it up to the people to choose how we will change and if we will change?
How about you and me?
Leon Trotsky said something to the effect that Chaos causes change; and only as deep as the chaos is spread can change be expected to occur. He favored worldwide chaos to change humanity from its conservative beliefs. His goal was to have constant revolution to destroy the trust of the people in their beliefs. He was mistaken.
The second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence tells us where we get our rights, and as a consequence that we should expect Safety and Happiness as our obligation and future.