(Roger Hedgecock) – From sea to shining sea, the nanny state/greedy state has declared war on kids selling lemonade from front lawn stands. In just the last few months, law enforcement has closed down “illegal” lemonade stands in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Wisconsin, Maryland and Texas. Not since Prohibition have the revenuers busted this much illegal drink. Not since the Great Depression have governments been this strapped for cash.
In Midway, Ga., three little girls were selling lemonade to save up for a summer trip to a waterpark. Midway police swooped in to put a stop to that, charging the girls with operating a food-vending operation without a business license, peddler’s permit or food permit. Police Chief Kelly Morningstar snarled that the police didn’t know how the lemonade was made, who made it or what was in it.
The permits cost $50/day or $180/year. Was this a public health issue or a public revenue issue? The girls are now doing chores and yard work to raise the waterpark vacation money.
In Bethesda, Md., kids from the Augustine and Marriott families were busted for the same offense and slapped with a $500 fine. The greed of local government was transparent even to the local TV station WUSA. Its report noted that on the days the kids were selling lemonade, the U.S. Open was underway nearby. The county sold parking permits for $300, allowing local homeowners to legally charge $60 or more per car to park in their front yards. The kids had operated their lemonade stand without paying a fee on a front yard where cars could have been parked and the county could have charged $300.
And what were these little lawbreakers going to do with their profits? Donate the money to a pediatric cancer charity.
Two 9-year-old neighbor girls in Appleton, Wis., sold lemonade and cookies from their stand during the Appleton Old Car Show and Swap Meet held near their homes. Not this year, a police officer explained as he told the girls to take down the stand. The Appleton City Council had passed an ordinance forbidding vendors from selling any product within two blocks of the car show or any other event where on-site vendors paid the city a new vendor’s fee.
Right here in San Diego, Calif., an anonymous mother wrote the city stating her children wanted to set up a lemonade stand and asking if any city rules and regulations applied. In reply, the city informed her, “You are legally required to obtain a business license, register a seller’s permit (to pay sales tax), and file a dba certificate or incorporate.” The city response also recommended liability insurance in case the kids were sued. A fee schedule was attached.
All this for a lemonade stand for a few days in the front yard.
Ronald Reagan once warned us that as government expands, liberty contracts. In our day, government isn’t expanding, it’s exploding. Liberty isn’t contracting, it’s evaporating. Where to take a stand? How to fight back?
Robert Fernandes, a father of two, has decided to fight back in the lemonade stand wars. He has declared Aug. 20, 2011, Lemonade Freedom Day, urging parents and kids across the country to set up lemonade stands without government permission, inspections or fees. See LemonadeFreedom.org.
Small stuff, you say? How many future business successes started with the neighborhood lemonade stand? Where else would kids learn what it is to get the ingredients, make the product, construct the stand, put out the advertising and sell to the customer? In government schools? (Come to think of it, I was a late bloomer, acquiring these skills throwing keg parties at college – but that’s another story for another time.)
Liberals believe that government at all levels in all guises must protect us through ever more complex regulation and inspection from evil private businesses. At the same time, liberals rely on taxes and fees from the same private business to fund ever bigger government. Didn’t their parents ever read them the childhood story about the goose that laid the golden eggs?
When former eBay CEO Meg Whitman was running for governor of California in 2010, she told a reporter that if eBay were starting up today, it would be much more difficult to get off the ground, and, she said, would not have occurred (as it did in 1995) in California.
The co-founder of Home Depot, Bernie Marcus, recently told Investor’s Business Daily, “Home Depot would never have succeeded if we’d tried to start it today.”
There won’t be any statistics on the number of ideas that don’t become products and the number of businesses that don’t get started. But heed the warning signs. Starting with lemonade stands in the neighborhood, the goose that lays golden eggs has been American businessmen and women. That goose is an endangered species, and big government is killing it.