Lemonade stands teach kids all the wrong lessons about capitalism
It was overcast, windy, and in the 50s yesterday morning as I drove my car down a city street. I saw two children sitting at a table across the street, waving to me. They had no signage but they were obviously selling lemonade.
In the cool weather, it suddenly occurred to me what a terrible lesson in capitalism lemonade stands are.
It teaches kids that they can produce whatever product they enjoy producing and that the public will buy it. That is not the case in the real world. In the real world, producers have to cater to the tastes of consumers. But lemonade stands encourage legions of kids to grow up to become unsuccessful actors, writers, painters, and rappers.
Lemonade stands also give kids their earliest lessons in virtue-signaling. Nearly every person who buys lemonade from children does so not because of a sudden thirst for lemonade, but to please small children. I think the children subtly or even overtly pick up on the fact that they are making sales because they are cute children and getting a bad lessons in the powers of being virtuous. If they grow up white and especially male, they won't have that to rely on.
Photo credit: Al Stephenson.
More importantly, lemonade stands don't teach kids a thing about the real skills they will need when they get their first real job:
1. Showing up on time consistently.
2. Working under pressure.
3. Dealing with difficult coworkers.
4. Dealing with difficult bosses.
5. Dealing with difficult customers.
6. Listening to and following instructions.
7. Dealing with unexpected situations.
8. Learning to communicate clearly.
9. Being meticulous in the performance of duties.
It's natural for children to want to imitate adults, from the age at which they are old enough to push phony baby strollers. But there really isn't much of a need for child labor in our post-Dickens society, aside from odd jobs delivering newspapers (where they still exist) and mowing neighbors' lawns.
If kids want to learn about what jobs are really like, their parents and extended family members should arrange to take them to their workplaces for a day (even if they are not girls) to see the tedious, pressure-filled, repetitive nature of real jobs. It may not be as fun as running a lemonade stand, but it will give children a practical understanding of at least part of what goes on in the real world, and it may begin to give them a sense of where their place in it might be.
For the record, I didn't buy the kids' lemonade because (a) there was no information about the carbon impact of the lemonade, (b) the kids couldn't assure me they were non-GMO, (c) I didn't know if these were "fair trade" lemons, and (d) I suspected that they were actually using "translemons" that used to be tangerines.
Ed Straker is the senior writer at Newsmachete.com.