It's been done. Look at the Carrier Inifinty/Bryant Evolution systems. 4 wire communicating system. There are other communicating systems from Trane and various other manufactures as well, but they all use different protocols, which is a problem. Perhaps someday they'll standardize but for now you'll need a matched system from one company.
As someone who just moved from Austin to the NYC area last year I thought I might give you some insight as to what those numbers mean. While people do also get paid more to live I those areas, they also take a lower relative pay to live in those areas. People are willing to take 1.5x lower salary to live where there are more oppurtunities, jobs and otherwise. I wouldn't move back to Austin for the same pay I get in the northeast, though I like it up here and not everyone does. But the numbers show more people prefer it.
You are also missing this, without which the current drop would look a lot more like the crash in 29, possibly worse. Had the Federal Reserve not propped up all the failing banks they would all have most likely declared bankruptcy within a month. Where do you think the dow would be had that happened?
Here is a list of DJIA companies that would now likely be bankrupt had the government not interviened:BOA,Citigroup,GM,JPMorgan Chase
That is over 10% of the companies in the DJIA that would now be bankrupt, in the span of a few months.
The difference between now and 1929 is not the scale of the drop, but the magnitude of the governments intervention in the market.
If you don't want toll roads I suggest you go lobby your congress person for a higher gas tax.
If we spent the amount of money on mass transit that we spend on road construction, traffic cops, etc, cities would be a lot denser, but we don't so we have suburban sprawl. Cities used to be a lot denser, but then there was the Great American Streetcar Scandal and now Americans are left with crappy bus service.