Last week Glenn Beck discussed the all-encompassing reach of the Nanny State as local officials have been cracking down, not on gang violence or organized crime rings, but on enterprises as innocent as children's lemonade stands and bake-sales. Whether America's youth are selling their refreshments for charity, school-funds, or simply for their own mad-money and enjoyment, bureaucrats seem to be hyper-focused on dismantling what was once a cornerstone of the American experience.
If it sounds too outrageous to be true, consider the following stories from around the country and listen to Glenn Beck explain why Big Government tactics like this will only serve to weaken the next generation's work ethic and make them more reliant upon government (clearly, the intended goal).
In Massachusetts schools, bake-sales were nearly banned by law in a push that officials claimed was intended to battle "childhood obesity." Fortunately, after enough outrage from parents was generated, Governor Deval Patrick backed down from the planned regulations.
The ban would have prohibited the sale of sweets and baked goods during the school day and 30 minutes before and after the start of classes, but parents and some school officials expressed concern, saying it would hinder raising the cash needed to help pay for school activities.
This is hardly the first (or last) time such an incident has taken place, however.
In Appleton, Wisconsin, two young girls who ran a lemonade and cookie stand every year near their home during the town's Old Car Show were paid a visit by law enforcement and told they had to shut down. Neither the tears that ensured nor the fact that the stand had been their tradition since they were about three-years-old didn't faze Big Brother. A city ordinance is a city ordinance, and in what many considered the trademark robotic fashion adopted by most bureaucrats, logic and reason held no sway in the ultimate decision to close the young girls refreshment stand down.
“There were tears at first. There was big disappointment. When you're nine and somebody tells you you can't, you're not happy,” said one of the mothers. “It's just a lemonade stand, so that's the part that's disheartening.”
“I'm sad that we probably won't be able to do it anymore,” said Lydia Coenen
The incident came in 2011 when the Appleton city council passed an ordinance preventing vendors from selling products within a two-block radius of local events.
But if shaking down nine-year-olds wasn't bad enough, consider that in Coralville, Iowa, police cracked down on a four year old after her lemonade stand had been up a mere 30 minutes. Dustin Krustinger told reporters that his daughter, Abigail, was selling the tasty beverage for 25 cents per cup during the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Race Across Iowa. If she had made five dollars during the few short minutes her stand was allowed to operate, that would have been a fortune.
In reflecting on the absurdity of the shutdown, Krustinger said, “if the line is drawn to the point where a four-year-old eight blocks away can’t sell a couple glasses of lemonade for 25 cents, than I think the line has been drawn at the wrong spot.”
Meanwhile, officials in Midway, Georgia, demanded that three youths ages 10 to 14, who were trying to raise money to fund a waterpark excursion, obtain a business license, a peddler’s permit, and a food permit to operate their lemonade stand. The required licenses would have cost the trio $50 per day or $180 per year each -- sums that would clearly eat into any profit that might have come from the stand in the first place (not to mention the ordeal and length of time it takes to process paperwork with the city). In another instance, police informed a mother that she needed to dole out $400 for her child to run a lemonade stand.
Officials in Hazlewood, Missouri also honed in officials also banned two young girl scouts from selling Girl Scout cookies from their front yard. Why? A city law bans the “sale of commodities” from a home. So I guess Girl Scout cookies are like pork belly futures and rolls of copper.
The Freedom Center of Missouri published an extensive list dating back nearly 20 years detailing many of the food police's shutdowns. Below are just a few of the other incidents that have occurred across the country:
April 16, 2012 – For years the Westbury family had sold lemonade, cookies, and banana bread from the end of their driveway in Hopkinton, Massachusetts to spectators at the Boston Marathon; the family donated the proceeds to Relay for Life, an anti-cancer charity. But on April 16, 2012, city health officials shut them down because they had not obtained a permit.
August 6, 2011 – The Massachusetts State Police shut down the stand of a 12-year-old refugee from Fukushima, Japan, who was selling green tea he’d brought with him when they evacuated after the tsunami.
July 19, 2011 – McAllen, Texas shuts down girls’ lemonade stand for failure to obtain food permit, may assess grandmother $50 fine.
June 16, 2011 – County Inspector in Maryland closes kids’ lemonade stand, fines parents $500.
June 10, 2011 – Philadelphia Department of Health shuts down cancer charity’s lemonade stand for lack of permit, hand-washing station.
February 26, 2011 – Georgia police demand closure of Girl Scout cookie stand until girls obtain a peddler’s permit.
February 26, 2011 – In a separate incident, Savannah, Georgia, determines that city ordinances require an end to 40 year tradition of Girl Scouts selling cookies outside the historic home of the organization’s founder.
Beck fears that through such far-fetched measures, children will only learn that if they want or need to make money, they will need to ask the government for permission first. In addition, Beck said that the government's discouragement only teaches them that coercion, bribery, and "NIMBYism," or "not in my back yard" syndrome are all necessary in order to survive -- "awful lessons" to learn, whatever one's age.
This generation, according to Beck, is being raised to be "passive" and "powerless" as they acquiesce to an "all-powerful government." With this in mind, he asked why Americans would be surprised when the younger generation graduates from college or university only to find themselves "utterly unprepared" for life, innovation, a strong work ethic and the realities of the marketplace.
Ultimately, the government is trying "drum" the initiative out of children at tender and impressionable ages. "It's not going to spoil the environment...be WalMart, or ship jobs overseas," Beck quipped. "It's about learning something new" and isn't that what being a kid is all about?
With that said, Beck, citing an example of a government official who once boasted about how he "crucifies" businesses in order to set an example, ceded that perhaps cracking down on lemonade stands is the best way to prepare America's youth for the harsh realities ahead.
The quote Beck was referring to came from a 2010 video featuring Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official, Region VI Administrator Al Armendariz, admitting that EPA’s “general philosophy” is to “crucify” and “make examples” of oil and gas companies.
But it doesn't have to be this way, and maybe "we can stop it."
This June 13th, Beck will launch a national lemonade stand and bake-sale day open to all who wish to participate in their respective cities and towns.
Information on how to get involved can be found on the GBTV website.