As much as it stuns people to find out, I used to be a kid. And, like all kids at one time or another, I ventured into the scary world of capitalism. Those first forays in the American way of life are joyful stepping stones on the road to maturity. The child learns how to budget, how to plan and how to save the profit or use it for a specific goal. Often times the child works in conjunction with a responsible adult to make sure that all goes well. Youthful entrepreneurship is at the very bedrock of our society. From candy to cool drinks, we encourage our children to venture forth into the world and taste the sweet succulence of success. We want them to learn the lessons that will heed them well in adulthood. And if every venture isn’t a winner, that also serves as a lesson learned and can be built on for future reference.
Of course, some lessons are subtle and others aren’t. Subtle is quietly learning the joys of proper business while having fun. Unsubtle is going to jail for your efforts.
If this were just about one story then it might be funny. In fact it might even be hysterical. Now, however, it’s just sad.
On July 26, 2009 cops arrested a group of 7 kids. No, you can’t make this stuff up. Fortunately for the felons, wiser minds prevailed.
Some 50,000 people work and play in Haverford Township, Pa. Sometimes they get a little heated. When they do, they cool off by supporting one of the local air-conditioning merchants.
Some, however, take the easy way — buying lemonade from 5-year-olds on the street.
That’s where he comes in. He carries a badge.
The guy in question is a Haverford cop who put the kibosh one some kids’ lemonade business. He said they didn’t have a business permit.
Turns out the seven youngsters don’t need one, Deputy Chief of Police John F. Viola told the Philadelphia Inquirer. He explained to his officer that the township (about a half-hour east of Philadelphia) doesn’t require business licenses for people younger than 16.
The identity of the arresting officer is not being released because, well, he has a really nice boss. Who wants to be known as the cop who busted, among others, 5-year-old triplets for running a lemonade stand?
“We all sold lemonade as kids,” Viola told the Inquirer. “We’re all, like, who calls [the cops] on kids?”
Believe it or not, some moron did call the cops, which led to this silly turn of events. Some people are just complete tools.
Even so, you live, you learn. Right?
Wrong. Not even a month later, on August 16, 2009, Riverside Park cops in New York slapped 10 year old Clementine Lee with a $50 fine for selling lemonade.
Really? Clementine Lee? Has there ever been a more American name? Anwyay, the NY Post followed up on the story and there was a happy ending.
“I was really nervous when these three agents cornered me and my dad,” said Clementine, who loves classical music and has been playing violin since she was 4.
“I think they should let people sell lemonade out here. We weren’t hurting anyone.”
But yesterday, after The Post contacted the department, Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe announced that the ticket would be nixed.
“The agent used extremely poor judgment” and didn’t properly enforce the rule, Benepe said.
The bumbling Parks enforcement patrol officer will be re-trained on rules and regulations and will be reassigned, he added.
“We’re going to make lemonade out of lemons . . . I look forward to buying lemonade from her if I pass by,” said the commissioner.
Clementine said she might take him up on the offer.
Okay, so now the lesson’s been learned, right?
Almost exactly one year later, health inspectors in Portland, Oregon terrified 7 year old Julie Murphy until she shut down her lemonade stand. Of course, this story had a happy ending too.
Jeff Cogen, the top elected official in Multnomah County, Ore. tried to turn lemons into lemonade, by apologizing Thursday for the shutting down of a lemonade stand by county health inspectors at a Portland arts fair last week.
“A lemonade stand is a classic iconic American kid thing to do,” the county Chairman said. “I don’t want to be in the business of shutting that down.”
Well, okay, I guess everyone now has finally learned their lesson. Right?
Oh hell no.
In June of this year cops in Bethesda, Maryland went all storm trooper on a bunch of young girls and slapped them with a $500 fine for selling lemonade. Why? Because they were better at it than anyone else. That’s right, the kids were successful and were going to give all the money to cancer research. Try and wrap your head around this quote.
“Cute little kids making five or ten dollars is a little bit different than making hundreds. You’ve got coolers and coolers here,” the inspector responded.
Well, not to worry, someone with an iota of common sense stepped in and the fine was rescinded. Sadly, though, thousands of dollars that could have been raised for cancer research were lost.
Nevertheless, lesson learned, right?
Not even freaking close.
Cops in Midway, Georgia have done their best to keep America safe from terrorists by busting 3 little girls for selling lemonade.
Three girls trying to raise money to go to a waterpark thought that a lemonade stand would do the trick. But then they met the long arm of the law — their local police chief.
The girls had started up their stand in Midway, Ga., when Police Chief Kelly Morningstar and a deputy drove by.
“They told us to shut it down,” 10-year-old Skylar Roberts was quoted as saying by The Coastal Source news website.
“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.”
Morningstar defended his action and received the support of Midway’s mayor. “We had told them, ‘We understand you guys are young, but still, you’re breaking the law, and we can’t let you do it anymore,'” Morningstar said. “The law is the law, and we have to be consistent with how we enforce the laws.”
That city law requires a business and food permits ($50 a day), even if the stand was at the home of one of the girls.
Health issues were also a concern, Morningstar said. “We were not aware of how the lemonade was made, who made the lemonade, of what the lemonade was made with, so we acted accordingly by city ordinance,” he said.
News of the bust caused an outpouring of local support for the trio — and The Coastal Source said it had given the girls tickets to the waterpark.
“The law is the law?” Well, thanks George Orwell, for pointing that out.
While you’re keeping Georgians free from the terror of little girls selling lemonade, allow me to point out some other laws in your great state that would be fun to enforce.
- The term “sadomasochistic abuse” is defined so broadly, that it could possibly be applied to a person handcuffing another in a clown suit.
- All sex toys are banned.
- It is illegal to use profanity in front of a dead body which lies in a funeral home or in a coroners office.
- Donkeys may not be kept in bathtubs.
- No one may carry an ice cream cone in their back pocket if it is Sunday.
Don’t you have an overwhelming desire to wake up this Sunday, wear a clown suit, swear at a corpse while waving a vibrator and carrying an ice cream cone in your back pocket? I know I do.
Okay, seriously, these are laws?
Well, as the man said, the law is the law.
I guess I’ll have to get that donkey out of my bathtub.
In the meantime I might suggest, if these cops want to bust anything in the future, that they bust a move.
Listen to Bill McCormick on WBIG AM 1280, every Thursday morning around 9:10!