Column: Killing lemonade stands shows American Dream turning to nightmare
Are tax dollars actually being spent to perform checks on the safety of lemonade stands?
Mar. 02, 2012
The opinions expressed by The Maneater columnists do not represent the opinions of The Maneater editorial board.
Three girls from Midway, Ga. were looking for a way to raise money for a trip to the water park, so they set up a lemonade stand. It was going well until Police Chief Kelly Morningstar stopped by. Ten-year-old Skylar Roberts was told by the Chief to shut down the stand. The girls were breaking a city ordinance, which requires business and food permits at the price of $50 per day. Chief Morningstar was also concerned that the young entrepreneurs didn’t know “how the lemonade was made.”
Can this be serious? Are tax dollars actually being spent to perform checks on the safety of lemonade stands? This is a fundamental problem today in the United States. As regulations increase, the once low bar for marketplace entry rises exponentially, and the American dream becomes bleaker and bleaker. What was once an open free market economy that made America great is now so closed that a 10-year-old can’t make and sell lemonade.
When government imposes a new law, it is providing protection where it believes citizens can’t protect themselves. So according to the government, Americans are no longer capable of telling whether kids running lemonade stands want our money or are conspiring to poison us. The laws in this nation used to be pretty simple. For example: Don’t shoot anybody, don’t steal from anybody and don’t commit treason.
The U.S. government now has laws and regulations that mandate citizens buy health insurance, stop private banks from making lending decisions based on ability to repay and more. Then, it becomes even worse at the state and local level. Many states and cities have decided who can be “married,” whether one can smoke in privately owned establishments, and as you read earlier, whether one can sell lemonade. It think it’s fair to predict that soon government will mandate all citizens buy Netflix subscriptions because most Americans agree it is a crime not to have instant access to Arrested Development and 30 Rock.
The important distinction, which many Americans can’t seem to make, is the difference between personal preference and laws. This is an important distinction for two reasons. First, the fact that I don’t like it when my roommate listens to Drake doesn’t mean my hall should make a law against it. Second, when the government regulates something, the end result could be deadly force, which seems like overkill.
The point is: Why does one person have the right to tell anyone else how to live his or her life? The new wave of politicians after any economic collapse tries to blame the collapse on a lack of regulation. That would make sense, but dogs haven’t been dancing in the streets with cats for a while and that’s about as likely as anyone practicing true altruism.
No matter what side Joe’s on, Joe will never work against his own self-interest. That’s why free market capitalism works. Sure, you could try banging your head up against a wall right now to prove me wrong, but you would be doing so to prove me wrong, which is in your own interest.
If the lemonade the girls were selling was filled with laxatives and a customer had a very bad afternoon after drinking it, then that customer wouldn’t go back to buy a second round because it wouldn’t be in his self-interest. That is, unless one of the customer’s coworkers went to KU. If so, that customer would definitely buy the remaining pitchers as a gift.
Our system works; consumers can protect themselves. The U.S. doesn’t need a new law for every small imperfection. Our economy couldn’t have grown to its current size if Uncle Sam had been shutting down or heavily taxing the lemonade stands of Thomas Edison, Ben Franklin and Steve Jobs. Capitalism works. Overreaching government regulations don’t.