Land of the free? Government shuts down kids' lemonade stands, issues fines

Wednesday, February 12, 2014 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: lemonade stands, government oppression, bureaucratic fines

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(NaturalNews) The most innocent of childhood business ventures, the lemonade stand, is quickly becoming something of a mascot for the downward spiral of America into an oppressive police state. Local governments all across the country are increasingly making headlines for shutting down lemonade stands and issuing fines to young children for not obtaining expensive peddler's licenses or vender's permits, or for allegedly violating local ordinances.

Take the case of 10-year-old Morgen Morris from Indianapolis, who was ordered by local health officials to shut down her lemonade stand back in May. According to The Blaze, young Morgen did not possess the necessary permit from her county's health department allowing her to sell food or beverages publicly. The city later apologized after considerable public outcry but still requires all lemonade stands to obtain permits.

A few months later in Nevada, two young sisters were issued a citation for selling lemonade at the Reno-Tahoe Open, according to reports. Emma Farrell, 12, and Alex Farrell, 14, apparently failed to get the proper permit before setting up a lemonade stand at the Montreux Golf and Country Club during the golf tournament, which resulted in both them and their parents being fined.

In both cases, the situation was ultimately resolved, but only after the individuals in question submitted to the restrictive permitting requirements of their cities or counties, requirements that never used to exist for children selling simple juice to their neighbors. The fact that cities and counties see it as acceptable to keep their boots on the necks of innocent children for holding a lemonade stand illustrates the level of tyranny to which we have all become accustomed.

"Lemonade stand-shutdowns are not reaching epidemic-like levels, and no one is going to cart off little Suzie to jail for selling cookies outside her house," writes John Aziz for The Week about this growing trend. "That said, there is something absurd about shutting down lemonade stands, even if it's still relatively rare."

Targeting, shutting down lemonade stands a huge waste of taxpayer dollars

Aziz cites numerous cases, with one dating back to 1983, in which children had their lemonade stands shut down by local authorities. In Belleair, Florida, for instance, a six-year-old girl had her lemonade stand shut down after an anonymous complaint was filed that the stand violated city ordinances. A few years later, a nine-year-old in New Jersey had his lemonade stand shut down after city officials claimed it was a "permanent structure" that sat too close to the street.

In both of these cases, the targeted children were ultimately allowed to reopen their lemonade stands after their family, friends and neighbors came to their defense. But two young women in Midway, Georgia, were not so lucky. Their lemonade stand was shut down in 2011 because it lacked a business license, a peddler's permit and a food permit, which would have cost them far more than they ever could have retrieved from selling lemonade.

And despite a groundswell of public uproar that quickly went national, Midway city officials vehemently refused to allow the stand to reopen without said permits.

"While navigating bureaucracy is definitely a useful entrepreneurial skill, expecting kids or their parents to fork out hundreds of dollars for a license to run their first business is punitive and anti-entrepreneurial," writes Aziz.

"And every hour and dollar spent on inspecting or shutting down children's lemonade stands on technicalities is an hour and dollar not spent on inspecting food safety in actual restaurants, food processing facilities, and stores - places where a lapse in food safety could expose hundreds or thousands of people to illness."

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