The control freaks of Chicago

Chicago Tribune:


The blues bars of "Sweet Home Chicago" are smoky no more, thanks to one of the most restrictive city smoking bans in the country. Chicago is one of just a few cities in the world to limit the use of trans fats in its restaurants. Even a place once christened Hog Butcher for the World engaged in an embarrassing public debate over the discomfort of fatted geese.

Thanks in large part to the efforts of an aggressively anti-alcohol mayor, the tipsy town that used to boast more than 7,000 taverns in the postwar 1940s now sips its suds in barely 1,300 bars. And you can forget about owning a gun in this town. Chicago has some of the most restrictive gun laws in America.

The fact is, a lot of "little soft cities" have become brassier and freer and, well, funner than Chicago.

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.

Chicago reigns supreme when it comes to treating its citizens like children (Las Vegas topped our rankings as America's freest city). Chicagoans pay the second-highest cigarette tax in the country, and the sixth-highest tax on alcohol. Chicago has more traffic-light cameras than any city in America (despite studies questioning their effectiveness), restricts cell phone use while driving, and it's quickly moving toward a creepy public surveillance system similar to London's.

Now we know where Obama got his own control freak tendencies and his anti freedom agenda. It must be where Michelle got the idea that Barack was going to make us do stuff.


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