A sour deal for lemonade stand

The cliche goes, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” But what do you do after you’ve already made lemonade, and then come the lemons?

In yet another case of stupendous overreach, the Washoe County Health District on Aug. 3 shut down two girls’ lemonade stand during the PGA Tour’s Reno-Tahoe Open, as reported by the Reno Gazette-Journal. The issue, according to health district public information officer Phil Ulibarri, was that the girls were doing business within the Montreux Golf and Country Club, where the annual tournament is held. Surrounding vendors had paid event fees in order to sell their wares, and some had apparently lodged complaints.

But the girls and their parents live inside the gates of the club, according to Robert Fernandes of the national organization Lemonade Freedom (yes, it exists, at www.lemonadefreedom.com). Furthermore, the girls — 14-year-old Alex Farrell and 12-year-old Emma Farrell — have operated the stand near their house for years. As Mr. Fernandes writes in his blog, “Alex and Emma sell ice cold lemonade, homemade cookies, and gently used golf balls that they custom decorate for customers. They have been operating this stand in front of their house for the past five years with nothing but compliments and support from the community.”

The problem in general with the licensing process, in many cases, is that it’s set up to help businesses cut out competition. The fees do not serve a legitimate public purpose; they’re in place to keep people out, not let people in. This is happening more and more all around the country. It’s not just giving kids a bad experience with the most basic level of entrepreneurship; it has also created a war between elevated minimum wages and youth employment.

To the credit of both the parents and the girls, they took the citation in stride, and the health district and the family are working toward getting a permit ($38) for future events Tournament officials were far smarter from a public relations standpoint, offering the girls a spot near the 18th hole for next year’s Reno-Tahoe Open.

“We applaud the girls and their cooperation and encourage this kind of entrepreneurship,” Ulibarri told the Gazette-Journal.

Really? How encouraging is it to now make these girls start out $38 in the hole? That’s a lot of lemonade and cookies, to be sure. And the licensed vendors bear some responsibility for this situation, as well. The established businesses used the apparatus of the government (the licensing process) to crush the young entrepreneurs. Sure, the girls got to learn how the real world works, but it’s a bad lesson to teach. The real world needs a makeover — with fewer lemons.

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