Japan or south Georgia?

How is our local landfill like Fukushima? No, not radiation: nobody seems to be responsible.

Colin P. A. Jones wrote for The Japan Times 16 September 2013, Fukushima and the right to responsible government,

Rather, the means of holding a member responsible for bad judgments are internalized as part of the rules and discipline governing the hierarchy to which they belong, with mechanisms for outsiders to assert responsibility — to assert rights — being minimized and neutralized whenever possible.

Sure, it’s not exactly the same. Our local governments live in fear they’ll get sued (or so they claim), and even sheriffs and judges occasionally get convicted around here. But it’s quite difficult to get local elected officials to take their responsibility to the people as seriously as “we’ve invested too much in that to stop now” where “we” means the local government or more frequently a developer.

And privatizing the landfills and now trash collection is not that dissimilar to the Japanese government keeping TEPCO afloat so they have an unaccountable scapegoat for Fukushima. Locally, nobody seems to even know, much less care, that the landfill is in an aquifer recharge zone and has accepted PCBs, coal ash, and wastewater from the Seven Out Superfund site in Waycross, plus ADS now wants to cut through the riparian buffer to cross a branch into the Withlacoochee River.

Is the local landfill equivalent to radiation-leaking Fukushima? Not even close. But the pattern of avoiding responsibility does seem similar. Maybe it’s time for us like Japan to realize:

Japan is supposedly a democracy, so in theory a responsibility-shirking government is ultimately the people’s problem — and responsibility — just as much as the nuclear disaster and all the nation’s other problems are. Of course, the people have a plentiful supply of other targets to blame until enough of them come to that realization.

We could use better than trash government. There are elections for city governments this year and for the county next year.


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