Tea Party types, and conservatives in general, like to rail against Big Government, and they want to keep government as small and local as possible. They claim that the Constitution was written with that expectation (it probably was) and that therefore, that is how it should always be (a questionable premise).
So my question is, How would that work out in the face of an event like what happened last week in Japan? Suppose Japan had most of its power and control vested in individual prefectures. What happens when an entire prefecture (several, in fact) are devastated all at once?
In the United States, we had the Katrina event, which brought devastation to several states. Absent a strong central government to help with recovery and to spread the cost around, how is a local government supposed to cope?
We face the possibility of destructive events on the scale of Japan's in the Pacific Northwest and from San Francisco to San Diego in California. And then there's the Yellowstone Caldera and the New Madrid Fault, if you run out of things to worry about.
The benefit of having a strong and effective national government is obvious. Any time risk is shared by a larger pool of people, it is minimized on individuals. That's how insurance works, and that's how government works. We need to stop demonizing government and think about the only thing worse than a government in control, and that is lack of a government in control.