Texas cops crack down on rogue lemonade stand operating without a license and run by child labor (satire)
J. D. Heyes
That was the phrase police and regulators used to subdue two young entrepreneurs in Overton, Texas, yesterday, as they stood accused of attempting to poison the general public at large with lemonade they created in their mother’s kitchen.
City Police Chief Clyde Carter, armed with state regulations that forbid the sale of such beverages before they are made safe and wholesome through a rigorous and expensive licensing process, moved to shutter the fledgling enterprise of Zoey and Andria Green, who began their venture as a way to fund a Father’s Day gift.
In addition to selling rogue lemonade, Zoey, 7, and Andria, 8, also offered Kettle Korn that critics say could have contaminated an entire city, had the unlicensed sales been allowed to continue.
“I’m sorry, kids,” Carter told the pair as they opened for business Wednesday. “I’m gonna have to shut you down. You are required by state law to obtain a permit and, well, seeing that you don’t, you have to close.
“It’s out of my hands, you see,” Carter continued. “I could fine you, but I won’t. This time.”
No help from local, state officials
Carter told local news agencies that the kids would have to obtain a permit to continue their operations. The permit is $150 dollars; the youngsters said they initially sought to raise $105 for their dad’s gift.
“If we were successful we had planned to franchise these stands all over our neighborhood,” a dejected Zoey said, “but I guess now we’ll have to shelve our expansion.”
“And that’s really a shame,” added Andria, “because now we’ll have to lay off staff. That’s tough, considering we’re still in a difficult economy.”
Carter eventually relented and said he would waive the license fee, but not before the pair of budding businesswomen had suffered irreparable economic loss.
“You can’t just shut a business down and then start it back up again,” Zoey explained. “There are supply chains to reestablish, wholesalers, the hiring process, new marketing… none of this happens overnight.”
“I guess I don’t really blame the officer,” said Andria. “I know he was just doing his job. But honestly, it was just lemonade and Kettle Korn. It’s not like we are Walmart or something, though we hope to be that big someday.”
“And we won’t settle for using child labor, like some mega-corporations do,” noted Zoey. “I mean, we kind of have to now, but we won’t have to later.”
Get the approval of a bureaucrat or eat/drink at your own risk
Supporters of the young ladies say the requirement to obtain a permit is nothing less than paying the government for the privilege of earning a living. They point to cases like Dan Snyder of Butte, Montana, a 6-year-old entrepreneur who was cited by the Justice Department in August 2014 for selling bottled water he drew from his kitchen tap – and again, without a permit.
In Snyder’s case, however, customers knew where the water came from; signage on his stand clearly stated, “Dan’s Tap Water.” In other cases, however, so-called “spring water” often contains sizeable portions of ordinary tap water that has been filtered. Critics say because these companies pay homage to governments in the form of heavy licensing fees, however, they get away with the false advertising. That, in turn, creates an unfair disadvantage for smaller businesses like Snyder’s.
In Overton, the Green girls are sanguine after their brush with the law. They say they will use the experience as a teaching tool for others like them who are considering risky small business ventures without first getting the government’s blessing, even if the business is being established for the best of intentions. And they promised to be good next time.
“It’s kind of cool that the government is looking out for everyone,” said Andria. “You know, I guess the reality is, people are just too stupid to know what kind of risks they are taking when they buy products like ours – products that have not yet been sanctioned by a bureaucrat.”