PLAYING NICE WITH OTHERS….Over at the LA Times, the Matt Welch-inspired Reason-ification of the op-ed page continues apace. Today, Nick Gillespie complains about the taming of Chicago:

Over the last year, the Associated Press recently reported, Chicago snuffed out smoking “in nearly all public places” and pulled the plug on using cellphones while driving. This April, the “Hog Butcher for the World” (Sandburg again) became the first city in the country to ban the sale of foie gras, on grounds that force-feeding geese to make the tasty treat is more cruelty than Al Capone’s adopted hometown can bear.

….More recently, the council passed a “living wage” ordinance requiring big-box retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target to pay a minimum of $10 an hour plus benefits by 2010 or face draconian penalties (perhaps a deep-dish plate of a kinder, gentler foie gras, or repeated showings of that old Sears Tower promotional film?).

….In years gone by, people poured into cities to escape the conformity and monotony of life on the farm or in the small town. Now they go there to frown at aberrant behavior and pick up after their dog. In this, alas, Chicago is truly America’s third city ? and sadly, not the last.

At the risk of being deluged with angry email from PETA members, I’ll give Nick the foie gras thing. But the rest of this is kind of silly, no? I mean, object to nanny-state regulations if you want, but suggesting that cities ? cities! ? have been blissfully regulation free in the past is a little much. For as long as humans have congregated in large numbers, they’ve understood that large numbers can only live together without killing each other if their behavior is more circumscribed than it was when they were down on the farm with their nearest neighbor a long hog call away. Thus zoning laws, noise laws, parking laws, leash laws, health inspection laws, jaywalking laws, satellite dish laws, and tossing-pails-of-shit-out-your-window laws.

Face it: if you want to be a libertarian, rural Idaho is the place for you. But if you want to live in close proximity to millions of your fellow citizens, be prepared for some restrictions. I’ll bet there’s even an old Hittite saying for this.