Lemonade Freedom Day
If apple pie is the all-American dessert, the lemonade stand you see over the windowsill where granny's pie is cooling is the all-American first job. Sometimes it seems that nearly every kid since lemonade was invented has learned the virtues of hard work, responsibility, saving toward a dream or fundraising for a cause, and entrepreneurism by running a lemonade stand. But this is America 2012, where kids are more likely to learn a lesson in big government and dream-crushing regulations. Think of it as trickle-down tyranny, a micro-version of what they face when they enter today's real economy and workforce.
Last year, the war on lemonade stands came to the forefront of the national debate. Police descended on street corners to earnestly scold innocent second-graders. Parents were being fined hundreds of dollars. Cities and counties were passing ordinances to put an end to the threat to society once and for all! Do lemonade stands rank among the most urgent public safety and policy matter of our day? Are our tax dollars being used and elected officials focused on solving real problems?
Real problems. Like in Midway, Georgia. According to the Associated Press, Midway police "shut down a lemonade stand run by three girls trying to save up for a trip to a water park, saying they didn't have a business license or the required permits." Police Chief Kelly Morningstar also "didn't know how the lemonade was made, who made it or what was in it." Last time I checked, the recipe for lemonade had not changed. Was it the lemon, sugar, or water that was suspect? (If the lemonade stand had been in New York City, where Mayor Bloomberg has proposed a ban on drinks 16 ounces or larger, I would have suggested the cup size.)
The peddler's permit, which according to the city was necessary in order to continue operations, cost more than the girls would make in a day. Even these young girls could figure out that the government had wiped out any hope of profit, so they chose yard work and chores, which, for now, are still out of state reach. One has to wonder: in how many other arenas are government's cost-prohibitive regulations stifling entrepreneurism and keeping people from pursing their dreams?
It's imperative that kids grow up learning that our nation celebrates success and encourages entrepreneurship. The Midway girls' story continues to resonate with Americans. To show appreciation for their entrepreneurial spirit, drive, and dedication to lemonade stands, they were awarded $5,000 each from Tropicana Trop50 towards their college fund just last month on ABC's The Chew.
But the policies and actions taken to shut down lemonade stands aren't occurring in a vacuum. Kids are also seeing massive changes and prohibitions in their schools. In North Carolina, a woman sent her daughter to school only to find out later in the day that her homemade lunch was forcibly replaced by cafeteria food. Snacks are being sold on the black market because the school administrators have followed directives to remove the tasty treats. (Don't you just love such enterprising young people?) And bake sales, the biggest fundraising opportunities for extracurricular activities, are being banned.
The Lemonade War is just one skirmish in an unprecedented, and once unthinkable, government invasion on the food and drink marketplace. From outright bans to burdensome taxes to baseless guidelines, Americans are facing a future where we will be less free to make decisions about what we eat and drink. Continuing down this path means decision-making power transfers from the consumer to the government. We are surrendering our menus and allowing the state to place our orders.
And companies find themselves in similar positions, except in their case they don't have their parents to fall back on like the lemonade kids do. Instead, they have to waste resources they would otherwise use for new product development and research, and instead defend their products, restore their reputations, and avoid victimization by a government run amuck.
The targeting of children's lemonade stands should be a wake-up call for any American who ignores, minimizes, or doubts the dangers of government overreach.
For all those who are awake to the threat, there is a way to be heard -- Lemonade Freedom Day. Americans are setting out Saturday, August 18 with their ingredients, tables, and signs to blanket the country from Washington, D.C. to California with lemonade stands. It's a small effort but a powerful impact for a truly noble cause -- simply, freedom. So buy a cup or two at your neighborhood lemonade stand or start your own, because it's Lemonade Freedom Day.
Orit Sklar is the founder of "My Food. My Choice!"