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Lifestyles of the Rich & Richer

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Why does New York feel like the most expensive place to live? It's not because of $125 million apartments or the fact that $3K is the new $1.5K?it's because of things like Levain cookies. "There's just way more high-end stuff around to tempt us, and we don't do the mental accounting to adjust sticker prices for the higher quality. We see a sensible shoe with a $480 price tag or an oatmeal cookie for $4 and sometimes don't register that these are luxury versions of normal items available from Payless or Entenmann's." Such is the lesson from an economics column is the Times: if you're rich, NYC is a friggin' steal; if you're poor, it sucks and is just getting suckier; if you're in the middle...wait, what middle class? [NYT]