Nanny State

Chicago Ain't No Kind of Town


In an op-ed in Sunday's Chicago Tribune that is based on the cover story of the August-September cover story for reason (on sale now but why not subscribe already?), Senior Editor Radley Balko noted the nanny-state ways of the Windy City:

At Reason Magazine, we recently took a look at how the 35 most-populous cities in the United States balance individual freedom with government paternalism. We ranked the cities on how much freedom they afford their residents to indulge in alcohol, tobacco, drugs, sex, gambling and food. And, for good measure, we also looked at the cities' gun laws, use of traffic and surveillance cameras, and tossed in an "other" category to catch weird laws such as New York's ban on unlicensed dancing, or Chicago's tax on bottled water.

The sad news, Chicagoans, is that your town came in dead last. And it wasn't even close.

Read the whole thing.

And then check out this response, from Trib columnist Mary Schmich:

[The Reason folks] whimpered about our police cameras, our tax on bottled water, our high cigarette and alcohol taxes, and, in the way of many a 10-year-old, seemed to equate the fact that we can't have whatever fun we want whenever we want it with an assault on our basic freedom. But where some people see paternalism, we weirdos believe that most of Chicago's rules help turn unruly city dwellers into civilized citizens. Big cities are like big families-put a lot of people into a small space and somebody has to be charged with the power to say "Stop it."

Whole thing here.

reason on the nanny state here.

Update: Jeff Walker of OnMilwaukee applauds the relatively positive ranking for Jeffrey Dahmer's hometown (Milwaukee was deemed sixth-most-free city; Las Vegas took top honors) and notes:

"We like to talk about how fat we are, but there are many chubbier cities. Anyway, Milwaukee is far from a city full of nannies and regulations, and one that still knows how to have fun. Should our government be more imposing or should it just let people make their own decisions about health, risk and vice. There's a balance here, for sure."