One of the outfalls of the populist Tea Party movement is the demand for smaller government, less taxes, the elimination of regulations, and that government stay out of our personal lives. I'm not going to go into too much detail at this point, but the devastating earthquake in Japan points out one of the benefits of strong government regulations. Japan’s Strict Building Codes Saved Lives.
After reviewing the New York Times article, I did some internet slumming to find out how Christchurch's saved lives and I ran across this article: "Proper Building Codes Save Lives" that referred to an earlier (September 2010) earthquake in Christchurch. The article notes that: "The quake was about the same magnitude as the one in Haiti, yet they had a vastly different outcome – due to proper building codes." Another article: "Building codes saves lives – main message on anniversary of Chile earthquake and lesson learned from NZ"
Compare that to China's 2008 Sichuan earthquake where (according to Wikipedia) 69,197 were confirmed dead, including 68,636 in Sichuan province, and 374,176 injured, with 18,222 listed as missing. Of particular concern was the substandard construction of schoolhouses that collapsed. The earthquake left about 4.8 million people homeless. Of course the full extent of the devastation in Japan is unknown, so it is too early for a valid comparison with the current Japanese earthquake.
So before demanding the wholesale abolition of government in the name of promoting "liberty" and eliminating "oppression", be careful of what you ask for in terms of a small castrated government.