It may seem rather hard to believe these days, but once upon a time, people all across the globe considered America to be "the land of the free." Really!
Born of revolution and nurtured by the pioneer spirit, America delivered a new kind of world. Free of arbitrary constraints and control, human energy and initiative could work where they worked best - under the natural control of each individual. Every American could decide for him or herself how to earn money; whether to save or spend it; whether to stick with their job or seek better employment; or to become on entrepreneur ... going into business on their own.
Thanks to the individual freedom necessary to nurture the entrepreneur, thousands of years of man's meager existence - starvation and backbreaking drudgery - was transformed into our modern era of power, technology, and dramatically increased living standards.
But like every state throughout history, America's politicians and bureaucrats have chosen to take upon themselves the power to pick winner and losers at their whim.
The War on Lemonade Stands
Power is a corrupting force. All rulers, everywhere, seek to expand and exploit their power. They want to be in control. They want you to obey. And they are happy to use violence to enforce their edicts. In fact, they feel entitled to use force and violence.
That's why the American childhood tradition of operating a lemonade stand is under attack. Instead of learning initiative, service, work habits, and the value of earnings, more and more children are discovering the cold, dark reality of the state instead.
The lemonade stand crackdown illustrates a central law of bureaucracy: Regulation is unthinking and uncaring, allowing for no exceptions. There is no better illustration of this than the words of one public health official responding to a parent interested in having his child run a stand: "What the Lemonade Day organizers should teach the children…is about the importance of learning and obeying the government regulations that prohibit lemonade stands." -- Iain Murray, The War on Lemonade
The War on Lemonade Stands is your regulatory democracy in action.
Back in the old days, if young kids wanted to earn some extra money they would set up a little stand outside and sell some lemonade or some cookies ... their very first practical experience with making money. Once upon a time, you would see lemonade stands all over the place during the summer in America. In fact, "lemonade stands" became such a part of American culture that people knew exactly what you were talking about the moment you mentioned them ... [But if] you are a little kid and you try to sell some lemonade in "Amerika" today, the authorities will swoop in and shut you down in a heartbeat.
This is happening all over the nation. Recently, three little girls in Midway, Georgia decided that they would set up a lemonade stand so that they could raise some money to go to a waterpark. Well, the stand was up for just one day before the police came by and cracked down on the girls.
Apparently "the law" requires that anyone selling anything to eat or drink in Midway must get a "business license" that would have cost the girls $50 a day.
Needless to say, the girls were not going to be making $50 a day selling lemonade, so they are effectively banned from ever having a lemonade stand.
So what is the big deal? Well, the police in Midway say that "health and safety" are the primary concerns. The police chief in Midway put it this way....
"We were not aware of how the lemonade was made, who made the lemonade, or what the lemonade was made with."
Does the government now have to know everything?
This is an example of how the "nanny state" has gotten completely and totally out of control.
But this is the same kind of philosophy that caused federal agents to conduct a surprise raid on an Amish farmer at 5 AM one morning because he was selling raw milk.
We no longer have the freedom to grow food or make something to drink and sell it to our neighbors.
To the control freaks in government, that is way too "dangerous".
Even young kids recognize how crazy this all is. The following is what one of the young girls had to say after the lemonade stand was shut down....
"It’s kind of crazy that we couldn’t sell lemonade," added 14-year-old Casity Dixon. "It was fun, but we had to listen to the cops and shut it down."
Yes, Casity, it is crazy.
Sadly, this is not an isolated incident. In fact, this kind of thing is happening all over the nation. The following are some more examples....
*In Hazelwood, Missouri two young girls scouts have been permanently banned from selling girl scout cookies in the front yard of their own home.
*Back in June, a lemonade stand run by some kids in Maryland that was raising money for a pediatric cancer charity was shut down and authorities originally slapped a $500 fine on their parents until bad publicity forced them to rescind the fine.
*In Tulare, California one little 7-year-old girl recently had her lemonade stand shut down by authorities because she did not have the proper business permits.
Kids Learn the ABCs of the Lemonade Stand Police State
This police chief (see 00:35 of the video) in Midway, Georgia looks like she belongs to the TSA more so than a militarized police force, and she states that the team of little girls who had set up a lemonade stand to sell to neighborhood customers were "breaking the law," and "the law is the law." And of course, the law must be enforced by a bunch of tax-feeding, looting thugs to keep everyone "safe and healthy."
Local police, having nothing better to do, pounced on the little girls' lemonade stand and shut it down this past week. FOX News reports that the girls were told they'd need a business license, peddler's permit, and food permit to operate their lemonade stand. One of the Moms said that it seems to her that the cops "have nothing better to do." Amen to that, sister. And the girls, hopefully, will take home a libertarian lesson from this.
The War on Lemonade Stands has expanded all across the country too: Appleton Police Make Girls Cry; Another little girl's lemonade stand shutdown by police; Portland lemonade stand runs into health inspectors; it's endless.
Even if you're planning a garage sale or organizing a church bazaar, you might be breaking the law!
With youth unemployment at record levels, what is the state doing? Shutting down lemonade stands. Brilliant. But of course it is what you get in a highly regulated economy. Every regulation means a visit from the police and resistance to their dictates, in the end, means violence. -- Jeffrey Tucker, The right to sell lemonade
Lemonade Stand Freedom!
The much publicized little girl-lemonade debacle in Oregon raised my eyebrows in a couple of ways. For instance ... No one seemed to have noticed this ironic snippet.
"I understand the reason behind what they're doing and it's a neighborhood event, and they're trying to generate revenue," said Jon Kawaguchi, environmental health supervisor for the Multnomah County Health Department. "But we still need to put the public's health first."
Here's a government official who is a part of the rent-seeking, fascist governmental bureaucracy that is wildly out of control, stomping on all of our rights to voluntarily engage in transactions we desire for the sole purpose of enriching the state in terms of both power and cash collections, and he refers to the seven-year-old girl as "trying to generate revenue." As a former anarcho-lemonadist on the streets of St. Clair Shores, Michigan (admittedly, it was 30+ years ago) who was consistently endangering the health of the public with my home-brewed beverages, I assure you that the last thing on that little girl's (or her mother's) mind was "generating revenue." The reality is that children gravitate toward these activities because it is a fulfilling activity that stretches their mind and challenges their developing work ethic.
Sure, the minds of children, in the modern era, are saturated with perpetual stimulation-type amusement/entertainment activities that melt down their brains, dumb down their natural intelligence, and keep them in a state of perpetual juvenility. However, they aren't predisposed to be in such a pathetic state – they are conditioned by their political-cultural environment to be lifetime Bread-and-Circus patrons and assume the drone status. Otherwise, the minds of children, even at seven years old, are very perceptive of the nature of commerce and the important role it plays in the development of societal relations, survival, and happiness. Our youngest humans are naturally inclined toward productivity, approving feedback, and the pleasure that one gains from positive transactions with others that satisfy the needs of those persons. And yes, they understand that their work ethic and productive enterprise results in an exchange process that is mutually beneficial to both buyer and seller.
In fact, children don't understand "revenue," but they do interpret the meaning of a mutual satisfaction process that garners them "money" that can be exchanged for something they value or saved for future use.
Here's another quote from the article that comes from a mouthpiece from the Oregon state public (un)health division:
"When you go to a public event and set up shop, you're suddenly engaging in commerce," he said. "The fact that you're small-scale I don't think is relevant."
Commerce: the dirty word. The activity that must be overseen and engineered and regulated by the central planning class "for the good of us all." The uneducated citizens who don't understand anything about libertarianism often associate us with a simplistic (and violent) type of anti-governmentism. The more complex truth behind that is the fact that everything about government is coercive (coercion = force = violence). Libertarians love commerce because it is peaceful, it is voluntary, it is mutually beneficial to all parties, and ultimately, commerce is the foundation of civilization and societal well-being.
What do you do when life hands you lemons? If you're about to say "make lemonade," make sure you have a permit first or you might get an unwelcome visit from a government official. This Saturday is "Lemonade Freedom Day," which is a protest against governments shutting down – wait for it – kids' lemonade stands.
On reading about cases like this I'm sure a lot of people are asking whether the world is going mad or pointing out ... that the message the lemonade crackdowns are sending to the young is that our first and most important task is to obey regulations.
Intervention turns everyone into an interventionist. Little Lucy Lemonade competes with firms that have jumped through a bunch of regulatory hoops. Exempting her from these requirements puts formal, registered, and regulated firms at a competitive disadvantage. The regulated incumbents develop Stockholm syndrome and start defending the regulators who are making their lives hard, or at least demanding that the regulators go after potential competitors ...
One might ask whether starting down this sticky, sweet-and-sour slope toward an unregulated market in lemonade will mean allowing just anyone to open a lemonade stand, food truck, or other unregulated, informal business that will compete with brick-and-mortar incumbents. I don't see why it shouldn't. I'm not sure this is a bad thing, and instead of burdening innovators and entrepreneurs with existing regulations it might be a good idea to get rid of the regulations that would make it hard for incumbents to compete with upstarts.
Another might object that we have to have these regulations. We say we regulate food service for safety reasons, but I'm not so sure. The vast majority of the meals I eat are prepared at home with no government supervision whatsoever. We keep a tidy house, but how do we know it's a "safe" place to prepare food? If safety is the goal, shouldn't we be be stepping up regulation of home-cooked meals rather than concentrating on restaurants and their competitors? I would hope not – here's Robin Hanson with more.
It is not possible to measure an equally devastating consequence of regulation: namely, the small businesses that never open because they cannot meet the financial and other costs imposed by government as the "price" of entry. This is particularly painful during bad economic times when people naturally turn to cottage-industry or home-based businesses to sustain themselves. From selling lemonade to pet grooming, from cleaning houses to free-lance accounting, many people make desperately needed money through businesses that should require only sweat equity to establish. Instead, these people confront a choice. Meet complex requirements that add nothing to productivity or profit — e.g. fire and building codes, IRS compliance, health codes, permit or license conditions — or function illegally.
A zero-tolerance attitude inspired by lack of cash may be why lemonade stands seem to be increasingly targeted by straight-faced bureaucrats.
It is not merely young entrepreneurs; children doing charitable work also confront the state. Last month (June) in Bethesda, Maryland, an inspector closed down the lemonade stand of two boys who were raising money for pediatric-cancer charity; their parents were fined $500. Perhaps because of public backlash, the fine was dropped and the stand re-opened.
The Bethesda reopening offers a glimmer of hope. In many cases, when a bright light is shone upon the government quashing lemonade stands and children's spirits, the backlash is so ferocious that officials back down. This is especially true of officials who are elected by the local populations with which they live.
In short, Lemonade Freedom Day has a chance of working, of highlighting the absurd depth and breadth to which America is now governed. It is a chance to teach children how to protest peacefully but firmly against the unjust regulation of their lives. This August 20, if you can, your family should take a stand and "make a stand."
Lemonade Stand Freedom! Show some civil disobedience by operating a lemonade stand today!