Tags: nanny | state | reason

Chicago Worst City for Personal Freedoms

Sunday, 03 Aug 2008 03:37 PM

Chicago is the worst “nanny-state” city in the U.S. — the metropolis with the most stringent regulations interfering with the exercise of personal freedoms.

That’s the finding of a survey by Reason magazine, a libertarian publication, which ranked cities according to the degree they treat citizens as a “nanny” might treat children incapable of making their own decisions.

The magazine ranked the 35 most populous American municipalities in eight categories: sex, alcohol, tobacco, guns, movement, drugs, gambling, and a catch-all category of food and “other.” The higher the score, from 1 to 35, the more restrictive the city.

In the sex category, for instance, Reason looked at such factors as the number of strip clubs per capita, gay-friendliness, and adult entertainment regulations.

For alcohol, it took into account restrictions on happy hours and operating hours, blue laws and excise taxes on beer, wine and liquor.

The movement category included laws governing seatbelt and motorcycle helmet use, and government-operated surveillance cameras.

And for the food/other category, Reason looked at menu-labeling laws, pet codes, bans on trans fats, cabaret laws and other regulations of “a paternalistic nature.”

Chicago finished in the bottom half of every category, including 34 for tobacco, 33 for guns and 28 for food/other.

Reason cited a ban on serving alcohol at all-nude strip clubs, restrictive gun control laws, a public smoking ban, and widespread use of surveillance cameras. It also noted that nearly a quarter of Chicago’s precincts are alcohol-free.

Not far behind in second place was Seattle, with 35 for both alcohol and smoking and 32 for food/other, although it did receive a 4 in the drug category for its permissive marijuana laws.

New York was next, with 34 for food/other, 31 for smoking and 28 for movement. The city banned trans fats in restaurant cooking oils and ordered fast food chains to show calorie content on their menus. Police have issued citations for infractions as minor as sitting improperly on a milk crate, and from 1997 to 2006 they arrested and jailed more than 353,000 people for possessing small amounts of marijuana.

At the other end of the rankings was, not surprisingly, Las Vegas, which in addition to 1 for gambling also got 1 for sex, 4 for alcohol, 6 for movement, and 7 for food/other.

Miami was next, finishing in the top half of all categories except drugs, with 1 for movement and 1 for food/other.

The city “melds Florida’s conservative guns ‘n’ smokes freedom with the licentiousness you might expect from a cosmopolitan port,” Reason observes.

Three other Southern cities finished in the top 10 — Louisville, Jacksonville, and Atlanta.

Here are the rankings, from most “nanny” to least:

35. Chicago

34. Seattle

33. New York

32. Boston

31. El Paso

30. San Diego

29. Nashville

28. Houston

27. Los Angeles

26. Charlotte

25. Philadelphia

24. Indianapolis

23. Memphis

22. Columbus

21. Washington, D.C.

20. San Francisco

19. Baltimore

18. San Jose

17. Dallas

16. Cleveland

15. Phoenix

14. Austin

13. San Antonio

12. Oakland

11. Ft. Worth

10. Detroit

9. Atlanta

8. Jacksonville

7. Portland

6. Milwaukee

5. Kansas City

4. Louisville

3. Denver

2. Miami

1. Las Vegas

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