A thought exercise

Which may or may not make sense. Imagine that we have a resource mineral that, while not vital to the survival of the human race or essential to continuing technological progress, plays a pretty important role of making said things easier, more convenient, and bearable. Now imagine that this mineral needs to be refined before it becomes a useful product. The big six refineries have locked down all of the rights to all of the major sources of the mineral, which they stockpile.

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