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The Green Mama takes on Forbes' Miserable City Index


Last year they told New Yorkers they were miserable.  This year, they are telling Chicagoans we are even more miserable.  It’s enough to make a mama lose faith in the world’s business leaders that Forbes claims to represent.  (Oh, wait, too late.)

Forbes ranked Chicago as the country’s third most miserable city this year: right behind Memphis, Tennessee, and right before Cleveland, Ohio.  New Yorkers must have complained about last year’s ranking of fourth because they are no longer on the top 10 list.  The rankings this year are based on nine factors: commute times, corruption, pro sports teams, Superfund sites, taxes (both income and sales), unemployment, violent crime and weather.

Having lived in this year’s fourth most miserable city (Cleveland) and knowing a bit about the second (Memphis),  I feel justified in saying to Forbes: “What?”!  I have rarely seen such a clear example of a rating system gone awry. If Chicago as the third most miserable city in the country doesn’t make a red flag go off, what would?  (By the way, Chicago was just ranked as one of the world’s most livable cities; only eight American cities made it on the list).

Chicago’s crimes: bad weather (I guess no place in the Midwest will ever be considered un-miserable), state corruption (Blogojevich, you’ve foiled us again!), high sales taxes (that’s just so tourists can pay for our amazing quality of life), not having won a World Series recently (anyone remember the White Sox?), and long commutes (insert following rant here).

Sure, commuting is hard: no one likes to spend an hour away from work and family. Commuting alone isn’t the culprit. Not having options for how we get around (or if we get around) is what hurts.   And in Chicago we have options. Take me for instance: I live in a neighborhood at the far northeast corner of the city. We can get downtown via Metra train, El, bus, car (including cabs, always available; iGo carsharing cars; or my own), bike (along the lakefront path or bike lanes), skiing (my husband did this once, it took a LONG time), or boat (we haven’t done this yet).  All of these options, save the last two, provide a relatively easy commute in under an hour.  I am sorry, but I doubt there is any other city in this country that can beat that!

Forbes: A miserable city index is a good idea, but you got it wrong.  People want choices. People want public amenities. People want community. People want a vibrant, green city with restaurants to walk to, homes they can afford, and parks in which to recreate.

A losing sports team isn’t what makes life miserable; neither does snow (especially when it is plowed regularly and comes with some sunshine). Misery is living in a place that you hate and not being able to afford to move.; or, living in a place that is dirty and polluted, or in a city where you can’t walk to a park: (Chicago is near the top of the list for green city rankings).

I have lived in miserable cities. Chicago is not one of them.



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