Breaking down the breakdown

As I’ve said in a different but very much related context: a process, not an event.

How Breakdown Cascades Into Collapse
Maintaining the illusion of confidence, permanence and stability serves the interests of those benefiting from the bubbles and those who prefer the safety of the herd, even as the herd thunders toward the precipice.

The misconception that collapse is an all or nothing phenomenon is common: Either the system rights itself with a bit of money-printing and rah-rah or it collapses into post-industrial ruin and gangs are battling over the last stash of canned beans.

Neither scenario considers the fragility and resilience of the socio-economic system as a whole. It is both far more fragile than the believers in the permanence of the waste is growth model grasp and more resilient than the complete collapse prognosticators grasp.

The recent relatively mild logjams in global supply chains of essentials are mere glimpses of precariously fragile delivery-supply systems. These can be understood as bottlenecks that only insiders see, or as unstable nodes through which all the economy’s connections run. Put another way, the economy’s as a network appears decentralized and robust, but this illusion vanishes when we consider how the entire economy rests on a few unstable nodes.

One such node is the delivery of gasoline and fuels. It’s such an efficient and reliable system that 99.9% of us take it for granted: there will always be plenty of gasoline at every station, the tanks of jet fuel will always be topped off, and so on.

The 0.1% know that this system, once disrupted, would knock over dominoes all through the economy.

Hyper-efficiency and hyper-globalization has reduced the number of producers of essentials to the point that disruptions cannot be overcome with redundant sources. We see this everywhere in the global economy: a handful of plants and companies (sometimes a single source of essential components) process or manufacture essential components in much larger systems.

This is how you end up with thousands of newly manufactured vehicles parked in lots awaiting one critical part that is in short supply.

We’ve seen this movie before; we already know how it ends, or we should. Yet somehow, a great many of us seem unable—or unwilling, perhaps—to learn.

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John Wilder

Yup. I’ve written about same multiple times. Efficiency isn’t your friend, except for quarterly profits. For resiliency, you want redundancy. But why pay for that? Government has programs and CRT training to pay for.

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Last edited 6 days ago by John Wilder
kennycan

A hacker shut one pipeline down and we had a month of no gas at gas stations. Up and down the whole East Coast!

By sheer luck I had filled up both cars a day or two before it happened. Otherwise I faced the prospect of driving around looking for an open station and waiting an hour in line hoping the station didn’t run out of gas before I got the the pump.

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