The NY Times published a little survey of gas prices around the country. At first glance I immediately started to grumble and feel abused. As I suspected! Prices in California are highest in the nation! Those lucky stiffs in the Mid-West have it so good they pay at least 20% less for their gas.
BUT my feelings turned around pretty quickly when I looked at the other two charts published as part of the same survey: median income and percent of income spent on gas... well, now that those two little pieces of data are added into the picture, it's time for me to shut up and give thanks. It turns out that some of those folks who pay least for a gallon of gas are spending a very high percentage of their income on the stuff that makes their cars go. Up to 16% in some areas, compared to the Bay Area's meager 2% or so.
Now that's what I call expensive gas. I think some of those guys should consider buying a hybrid.
It would be interesting to look at the relative cost of other items in the same manner. Two examples that come to mind are housing and childcare. I think that in Bay Area we are probably paying a dramatically higher percentage of our income on housing than most folks around the country, and the same is likely true for childcare. Maybe I'll take up the challenge and play a bit with census data to figure it out for myself.