Sunday, February 19, 2017

Bill Murray opening Caddyshack bar near Chicago / Post on Entertainment Weekly (My Comment)

I want to like it, but I sense that it's going to end up looking tacky and sad. Also, speaking as somebody who lives in Chicago, I wonder if Rosemont is a good location for a bar.

In terms of profitability, maybe, because O'Hare is so close and the tourists will be passing by, but there is a cost that can end up being passed along to the community. At 2 or 3 am, when the bar closes, how are the drunks going to get home? If the bar is in Chicago or Evanston, there's an obvious answer: hop the El, maybe taking a CTA bus to connect. The El runs all night, so the drinker is set. One might look at the map, see an El stop in Rosemont and think "problem solved", but careful - the map doesn't always tell the whole story.

Not all suburbs were laid out with pedestrians in mind. The area around O'Hare is infamously, dangerously unwalkable, built to nothing resembling a human scale. Sidewalks are frequently absent, because planners just assumed that everybody would be in a car, and huge, cloverleaf intersections offer those on foot plenty of opportunities to be run down, because the only priority was getting as many cars in and out of what was once the world's busiest airport, as possible.

Weighing their options, people are likely to think "let's drive" and while we've all heard of designated drivers, hardly anybody wants to be the one sober person in a crowd fill of drunks. We end up with more drunk drivers on the roads, making darkened cloverleaf intersections and roads without sidewalks even more dangerous for pedestrians, pushing even more people into driving, even before the number of pedestrian deaths starts to rise very high. Anybody who has ever just barely been missed being hit knows what an impression the experience makes. The roads will get more dangerous still, as the problem feeds on itself.

I wonder if this permit should have been improved. Yes, there are PACE buses, but the last time I checked, those stopped running, early. There are taxis, but who wants to spend $20, just to get to the station where one will pick up a vomit encrusted El car? People could do that, but they won't, so somebody who is going to be on the road for the most legitimate of reasons (commuting home from a late shift at work) is going to end up being killed by one of these drunk drivers, who is going to end up plowing into his car. Or ... any number of things. Think "drunk person behind the wheel, what could possibly go wrong" - and very likely it will, and very often, it will end up harming an innocent bystander.

This is a harsh externality - the victims end up paying for the businessman's decision to cash in on the airport (and convention center) crowd at the cost of life and limb, literally, doing so non-consensually and without any sort of compensation. In theory, bars can be sued for serving excessively drunk patrons who later get into accidents, but in practice, we can see how little of a deterrent that is as we watch people stagger out of drinking establishments. How does the victim collect from the bar in the case of a hit and run, or if the drinkers say that they can't remember where they were? Which they very well might not, because barhoppers (as the name would suggest) often will hop from bar to bar, and Rosemont already has a surprising density of those.

This is great for the tax base of a small suburb (4206 people), with a well-developed road system (put in place because of the nearby airport) that helps the drunks escape its tiny territory very quickly, which I suppose is why Rosemont keeps approving these applications, but is it so good for the surrounding area? A surrounding area which, by the way, won't get much of a say in the matter because Rosemont is a home rule unit, giving it lots and lots of autonomy, and which isn't likely to be able to reason with Rosemont's government, which does seem to be given to a certain "go love yourself" attitude. We are talking about the town that tried to nullify a country tax .

Bill Murray is a star and he deserves his fame. I'm totally a fan and I'm sure other people are, too, but when he puts his wealth and fame behind an ill-considered decision to become part of a growing and potentially dangerous problem, that choice shouldn't be celebrated just because he has a theme in mind for the ill-considered decision. The night watchman who ends up being killed by a drunk driver at 27 and leaving behind a really young widow and a few tiny children might be somebody we don't know, maybe even somebody a lot of us don't want to know, but he's just as much a human being as a beloved celebrity, and his life counts, too. So let's use our brains and see that this is not a cute item. This is a continuation of a horror story that America doesn't seem to have the sense to bring to a close. Drunk driving claims thousands of lives every year.

We don't need to increase those numbers. When greed, thoughtlessness and the desire for a really neat theme bar so completely trump concern for public safety that the latter isn't even really being discussed, that's a problem, and it needs to be solved.

Time to put down your bets. :) How long before one of the following happens?

1. We see somebody deal with the above arguments by saying "tl;dr" and then setting up a strawman?

2. A libertarian complains that I'm arguing in favor of socialism, which he effectively defines to be any system under which he can't do just anything he wants. Because as we all know, that's what Stalin was infamous for - his brutal insistence on urban planning.

3. Somebody looks at the statistics, says that a lot of people who were killed by drunk drivers were their passengers, and concludes from this that death by drunk driver is consensual and not a cause for public concern.

4. Flaming from people who seem to be drunk, and totally love the people in #1, #2 and #3.

5. A representative from the village of Rosemont tries to snow us into believing that there is no problem.

6. I get dogpiled by a group of crazed Bill Murray fans.