If you want to gin up some legitimate and righteous outrage, share the story of a kid’s lemonade stand being shut down by the authorities. An activity that has been going on for generations has been under attack in recent years by nanny-staters who hammer children for not having the myriad of licenses required to sell something people eat or drink. It’s nearly universal that people look at what happens with confusion, with people on both sides of the ideological divide wondering just what the problem really is.
Well, it seems we’ve found the mentality in a post where someone says they were glad a child’s lemonade stand was shut down and the girl was fined for her entrepreneurial spirit. In an editorial in the New Statesman, Duncan Hothersall writes:
Who could fail to be moved by the widely shared tears of a five year old whose innocent lemonade stall was brutally shut down by evil bureaucrats? What sort of monster would not have their heartstrings tugged by the plaintive “I’ve done a bad thing” from a girl whose father tells us she “just wanted to put a smile on people’s faces”?
Well me, actually.
There are half a million cases of food poisoning each year in the UK, and one of the reasons we have stringent controls on who can sell food and drink, especially in unsealed containers, is to try to cut those figures down. And street stalls in general are regulated because we have a system of taxation, rights and responsibilities in this country which underpins our functioning society. Regulation is a social and economic good.
There are a half a million cases of food poisoning in the UK, but how many of those come from lemonade stands?
What’s that? You don’t know? Wow. I’m shocked. Someone justifying regulating a children’s activity doesn’t actually know if there are any real dangers associated with that activity.
Further, it’s not like lemonade stands are preparing raw chicken at the same time they make the beverage for crying out loud. Anyone with half a brain understands there’s little to no risk from a lemonade stand.
It’s also pretty unfair to criticise the hard-working public servants who acted in this case for doing the job they are no doubt underpaid to do. For the council to say “we expect our enforcement officers to show common sense” as they cancelled the fine is all very well, but I’m willing to bet they are given precious little leeway in their training when it comes to who gets fined and who doesn’t. If the council is handing out apologies, it likely should be issuing one to its officers as well.
No, it’s really not unfair.
You see, these regulations were written with the understanding that it would apply to businesses, not a child’s form of amusement. They were designed primarily for adults, people who were far more likely to take shortcuts in the name of misguided efficiency or outright greed. The officers in question should have had at least some understanding of that fact.
They didn’t, and thus the council said what it did because no one ever intended for children to be fined for having a freaking lemonade stand.
As the post goes on, we see the mentality of the dedicated nanny-stater, the person who believes that everything the government does is just and noble, that it exists to dictate what is and isn’t acceptable behavior. Any valid points get drowned out by the statist ideology dripping everywhere.
The problem is, there’s now a child who looks at regulations negatively. The young girl’s friends may also as well.
So the nanny-stater may be thrilled at having a child’s harmless fun squashed, but don’t be surprised if kids like this dismantle the author’s beloved nanny state in the future. They’ve felt its sting and won’t want others to feel it.