Writing in Commentary, James B. Meigs looks at the vulnerability of our "tightly-coupled" world. An excerpt:
“Tightly coupled systems have little slack,” writes Yale sociologist Charles Perrow, who developed the concept. He notes that organizations have many incentives to tighten the links in their operations. Businesses save money when they squeeze out redundant suppliers and adopt “just-in-time” supply chains. Case in point: Almost all the meat in U.S. supermarkets today comes through a handful of large suppliers. That consolidation has brought down prices. But when the coronavirus started circulating in the nation’s small number of meat-processing plants, the resulting crisis threatened our food supply. Our tightly coupled distribution system gave farmers no backup option for getting their meat to market.