Saturday, June 28, 2008

Some Ideas for Tom Barrett

Since he's the Mayorish of Milwaukee (and I don't live there) I'm happy to cite a few ideas for "Saint Willie" Hines and Mayor Milk-Carton for possible implementation in the near future.

These are taken from an essay by Radley Balko, published in the Chicago Trib.

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.

A ban on "unlicensed dancing"!! A tax on bottled water!!

There's more:

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,... politicians can spend time and political capital on alleged "quality of life" issues, such as how much space there ought to be between strippers and strip-club patrons (good work, Seattle!); monitoring the blood sugar levels of their residents (snoop on, New York!); or drawing up building codes for doghouses (I'm looking at you, San Francisco!).

Milwaukee could have mandatory blood-sugar monitoring! And dog-house building codes!! (It goes without saying that the doghouses will be subject to property tax, of course.)

Balko provides a veiled warning, too:

Today's cities are large enough to afford most residents the anonymity to indulge forbidden pleasures in black and gray markets without much fear of getting caught. The information revolution has provided myriad ways for us to transcend old boundaries of home, family and neighborhood

Which 'black- and gray-markets' are burgeoning, by the way. There are a lot of Wisconsin people who purchase low/no tax cigarettes from friends who just happen to travel out-of-state (but not to Chicago, where ONE PACK will run you $9.35.)

And that sort of enterprise will continue to grow as the Government-mandated High Cost of Fuels and Foods continues to escalate.

One other thing, boys: you should remember what Chicago is also famous for: the violence engendered as Government-enforced bans created opportunities for 'alternative suppliers.'

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