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In Milwaukee Buzz Blogs

Reason says that Milwaukee ranks on personal freedom. (PHOTO: reason.com)

Milwaukee ranks on health, risk and vice


Reason bills itself as a magazine of "free minds and free markets." In its "About Reason" section it says, "It covers politics, culture and ideas through a provocative mix of news, analysis, commentary and reviews. Reason provides a refreshing alternative to right-wing and left-wing opinion magazines by making a principled case for liberty and individual choice in all areas of human activity."

In its upcoming August edition (print and online), Reason looks at how the 35 most-populous cities in the United States balance individual freedom with government paternalism. Radley Balko, senior editor for Reason, wrote a piece recently for the Chicago Tribune. Chicago came in "dead last" in the Reason rankings.

Balko wrote this in a piece titled "Chicago, city of broad strictures," "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."

Since the Reason rankings are not yet posted, I went directly to Balko to see where Milwaukee ranked. Any guesses? Come on, we still allow smoking in bars and restaurants, we must be high on the list.

Indeed we are. Milwaukee's over all ranking: 6.

Broken down by category:

Milwaukee did pretty well.

Alcohol: 19
Tobacco: 5
Drugs: 9
Sex: 31
Gambling: 23
Guns: 17
Movement: 3
Food: 1

Here's what Balko says about Milwaukee, "When the fictional town of Springfield was deemed the "'fattest city in the U.S.' on The Simpsons, Homer Simpson retorted, 'In your face, Milwaukee!' Truth be told, despite its kielbasa reputation, Milwaukee isn't all that fat: Since 2000 Milwaukee has made periodic appearances among the 25 fittest cities in annual rankings by Men's Health magazine. The food nannies should be disappointed to learn that Milwaukee shared the top spot on our list of food freedom with several cities (including fitness-crazed Denver) that have apparently discovered other routes to good health besides regulation. No soda tax, no trans fat ban, no snack tax-and the city's fit. Brew City does finish a disappointing 19th when it comes to alcohol, but Milwaukee's pro-freedom approach to drug enforcement (including decriminalization of pot possession), tobacco regulation and transportation issues bumps the city to a very respectable sixth place overall."

I like this line and totally agree, "Truth be told, despite its kielbasa reputation, Milwaukee isn't all that fat." 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.

Finally more from Balko on Chicago, "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. Chicago isn't alone, of course. Many of America's big cities are moving toward a suffocating sort of paternalism. Chicago's just the worst."

Talk back now and watch for the new online and print edition of Reason soon.


Talkbacks

gymdawg | July 2, 2008 at 7:57 a.m. (report)

So much for our reputation of being a bunch of fat drunks.

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spennk | July 1, 2008 at 5:52 p.m. (report)

Why is Chicago so strict?...didn't I hear that Obama is from somewhere around there?

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alba | July 1, 2008 at 12:56 p.m. (report)

Why did we rank so low for Alcohol? Is our bar time too early?

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