What's the Matter with Chicago and Seattle and New York and Boston ...? We Rank the Worst Nanny-State Cities in America

By Balko, Radley; Dawdy, Philip et al. | Reason, August-September 2008 | Go to article overview

What's the Matter with Chicago and Seattle and New York and Boston ...? We Rank the Worst Nanny-State Cities in America


Balko, Radley, Dawdy, Philip, Welch, Matt, Thornton, Paul, Walker, Jesse, Harsanyi, David, Reason


[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

ON MAY 15, 2008, a goose graced the right side of the Chicago Sun-Times' front page, poking its beak into the paper's masthead, over the headline "Back on the Menu." The day before, the Chicago Board of Aldermen had repealed the city's notorious foie gras ban, a 2006 ordinance that came to symbolize the City of Broad Shoulders' transformation into the country's biggest wet nurse of a metropolis.

Legalizing goose liver pate was a rare step away from an odious national trend. From the People's Republic of Cambridge to the west Texas town of El Paso, a paternalist wave has been sweeping the country. Two decades of healthy economies and dropping crime rates have given many city councils the luxury of worrying about less urgent issues, from the last wisps of secondhand smoke to the discomfort of fatted geese. So even as self-styled progressives in Seattle, San Francisco, and Boston take a more relaxed approach to sex and pot, they've adopted increasingly restrictive laws regarding alcohol, tobacco, and junk food. It may be easier to smoke a joint today than it was 20 years ago (except in New York City--see below), but it's getting much more difficult to enjoy a legal cigarette.

To find the best and worst cities for exercising personal freedom, reason ranked the 35 most populous municipalities in the United States in eight areas: alcohol, tobacco, sex, guns, gambling, drugs, freedom of movement, and a catch-all category of food and "other." Within each category, we looked at criteria ranging from helmet laws to restrictions on alcohol sales to how aggressively police target recreational activities such as drug use, prostitution, and gambling. (We used proxies in some areas--figuring, for example, that a high number of prostitutes advertising openly on Craigslist suggests lax enforcement in that area.) The higher a city's score, the more restrictive it is. The rankings are presented from worst to best. After each city's entry, we've included how that city stacked up against the other 34 in each of the eight major categories.

35. Chicago

The Windy City finished in the bottom half of all eight categories. Chicago's litany of meddlesome laws range from a tax on bottled water to a ban on serving alcohol at all-nude strip clubs. Local gun controls and a public smoking ban are among the most restrictive in the country. (That smoky Chicago blues joint of yore is now just a movie cliche.) The city is second only to New York in the use of surveillance cameras in public spaces and has more red light cameras than any metropolis in the country.

Shortly after taking office in 1989, Mayor Richard M. Daley blew the dust off an ancient ordinance allowing individual city precincts to vote themselves dry. Today, nearly one quarter of Chicago's precincts are alcohol-free; the number of Chicago taverns has dropped from some 7,000 in the late 1940s to just over 1,300 today.

The place Robert Frost once praised for being "stormy, husky, brawling" and "a tall bold slugger set vivid against the little soft cities" has itself gone soft, even soggy, like the last bites of a chili-and-cheese-soaked sausage dog. "That reputation is long gone," says Doug Sohn, owner of Hot Dougs, the city's locally famous purveyor of encased meats. Sohn has the distinction of being the only restaurateur in Chicago to be fined for violating the foie gras ban, a citation that may have had something to do with his decision to name a duck meat and foie gras sausage sandwich after the alderman who sponsored the prohibition.

But the repeal of the foie gras ban doesn't herald a freer future. The same week Chicago reversed the ban, the Board of Aldermen considered a law that would require all pet owners to sterilize their dogs and cats, an overreaction to a pit bull attack on a woman one month earlier. And after a year in which the city's notoriously rough-around-the-edges police department endured a series of high-profile shootings, beatings, and allegations of corruption, the city council considered a bill that would . …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

What's the Matter with Chicago and Seattle and New York and Boston ...? We Rank the Worst Nanny-State Cities in America
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.