How do I love the gas companies? Let me count the ways

Recently, the GOOD website printed up GOOD Sheet #4, a nice graph of where the money given to gas stations goes. (GOOD defies description, but it's pretty good. Check it out.) Hard-copies of the sheet are available at Starbucks, but interested viewers can find an online copy here.

It's worth checking out: in a clear, easy-to-read manner, GOOD shows how the profit on gas is distributed and outlines the major factors that drive price. What it doesn't cover, however, is the ways that oil-producing companies actually use this money. Unfortunately, this is also the most important aspect of the oil market.

Oil is, perhaps, the most effective tool for wealth consolidation in the history of the world. Whether through technological innovation, conflict, or the luck of the draw, certain areas and people have ended up with large amounts of crude petroleum at their disposal.