The Security Value of Inefficiency

Interesting article:

A few quotes:

For decades, we have prized efficiency in our economy. We strive for it. We reward it. In normal times, that’s a good thing. Running just at the margins is efficient. A single just-in-time global supply chain is efficient. Consolidation is efficient. And that’s all profitable. Inefficiency, on the other hand, is waste. Extra inventory is inefficient. Overcapacity is inefficient. Using many small suppliers is inefficient. Inefficiency is unprofitable.

But inefficiency is essential security, as the COVID-19 pandemic is teaching us. All of the overcapacity that has been squeezed out of our healthcare system; we now wish we had it. All of the redundancy in our food production that has been consolidated away; we want that, too. We need our old, local supply chains – not the single global ones that are so fragile in this crisis. And we want our local restaurants and businesses to survive, not just the national chains.

First, we need to enforce antitrust laws. Our meat supply chain is brittle because there are limited numbers of massive meatpacking plants – now disease factories – rather than lots of smaller slaughterhouses. Our retail supply chain is brittle because a few national companies and websites dominate. We need multiple companies offering alternatives to a single product or service. We need more competition, more niche players. We need more local companies, more domestic corporate players, and diversity in our international suppliers. Competition provides all of that, while monopolies suck that out of the system.

This may not be directly related, but one thing that is popular today is classifying email as inefficient compared to tools like Trello, Slack, etc. This is no doubt a justified opinion as people use email very inefficiently. However, email is somewhat unique in that it is a truly distributed technology. Very few other communication technologies have this feature today.