Salt Lake City, a den of hatred and jealousy, but not so much avarice

Salt Lake Police Officer Stone writes a homeless man a citation for trespassing in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016. A joint operation by Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County in the downtown area is underway in an effort to immediately affect public health and safety there.

Salt Lake Police Officer Stone writes a homeless man a citation for trespassing in Salt Lake City.

Salt Lake City, that den of sin and vice; a city where anger and hatred is more prevalent than on the mean streets of Chicago; a place where jealously reigns far worse than in New York City; and a place where excesses and vices are worse than in Miami.

Salt Lake Vice? That might not be a ratings bonanza as a new prime-time crime show. But then, the above description might come as a surprise to a vast swath of the nation and to the millions who have visited the city as tourists.

Wallethub.com has listed the most sinful cities in the United States, using metrics to rank the largest cities in terms of anger and hate, jealousy, excesses and vices, avarice and lust. To no one’s surprise, Las Vegas finished first overall. The least sinful city, according to the list, is San Jose.

Salt Lake City finished a troubling 24th, fueled by two categories. In terms of hatred and anger, it ranked a whopping third in the nation, behind only Detroit and St. Louis. On the jealousy index, it finished 14th.

The study said Salt Lake has the most thefts per 100,000 people, at 95.75. That was a key statistic for judging jealousy, as was identity theft and fraud. Hatred and anger was measured by violent crimes, sex offenses, bullying and suicides.

But let’s get serious. Salt Lake City always gets a bit skewed in these kinds of rankings because of the fractured nature of the metropolitan area. Utahns seem to like small towns. It has something to do with a philosophy that government is best when it is closest to the people it serves. So Salt Lake City, with a population estimated at about 190,000, is a small part of a metropolitan area that, if you include the Ogden and Provo-Orem folks, has a population of about 2.5 million.

Because it is home to the commercial and industrial center of that metro area, Salt Lake City attracts an outsized proportion of the urban problems. It also is the magnet for homeless people and the criminals who prey on them, and it has a disproportionate amount of valuable things to steal.

Compare Salt Lake City to only the central business district of Chicago and you might see a different result. Include even just Salt Lake County (population about 1.2 million) in the statistics and you would get a different result.

On a positive note, Salt Lake City ranks 147th out of 150 cities in terms of avarice, defined by the number of casinos, people with gambling-related disorders and counter-weighted by the amount of charitable donations per capita. It also scored low on the lust scale, at 114th.

That may be the main reason “Salt Lake Vice” never would get picked up by a major network.

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About the Author

Jay Evensen

Jay Evensen is the Senior Editorial Columnist for the Deseret News. He has 32 years of journalism experience covering politics and a variety of other assignments at news organizations ranging from United Press International in New York City to the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Deseret News, where he has worked since 1986. During that time, he has won numerous local, regional and national awards. Most recently, he was given the Cameron Duncan Media Award, given annually in Washington, D.C., by the advocacy group RESULTS, to the journalist judged to have done the most to further the cause of the world's poorest people.

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