The Hypocrisy of the War Against the Lemonade Stand

Kudos to the city leadership of Dunedin, Florida for exercising common-sense in regards to a young man’s lemonade stand. And kudos to T.J. Guerrero’s parents for doing an obviously great job of rearing a wise and responsible young man.

lemonade

The Daily Signal reported, “War on Kids: Neighbor Begs Government to Shut Child’s Lemonade Stand.”

In a scenario reminiscent of the relationship between fictional characters Dennis the Menace and Mr. Wilson, an older neighbor became increasingly upset with the placement of T.J.’s lemonade stand near his house and tried to force the city government to shut down the boy’s business.

Doug Wilkey, a 61 year-old resident of this Florida neighborhood, emailed City Hall at least four times in two years and requested the police to intervene. Wilkey asserts that T.J.’s lemonade stand is an “illegal business” that causes excessive traffic and noise that could reduce his property values. “The city could possibly face repercussion in the event someone became ill from spoiled/contaminated food or drink sales,” Wilkey speculated in one email.

The Tampa Bay Times reported that in one email to City Hall, Wilkey vented his frustration and wrote this summer that the stand was back “AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Despite the impassioned arguments by this disgruntled neighbor, cooler heads in the local government prevailed. The mayor of Dunedin, Dave Eggers, showed his support by visiting the stand himself and sampling T.J.’s lemonade. “I think it is a great show of entrepreneurship,” Eggers explained. “This 12-year-old is setting a great example. I don’t know what the other neighbor’s problem is, but I would like to talk to him to try to figure it out.”

[…]

In a strange bit of irony, the Tampa Bay Times discovered that Wilkey himself is running an unlicensed business operation from his home, and is skipping out on paying required taxes. Rice noted that, “[t]he irony is [Wilkey’s] not following the rules either, or doesn’t seem to be,” and could face fines up to $250 per day until he comes into compliance. What goes around comes around.

While on one level it’s deliciously satisfying to hear that the complainer against the boy’s micro-business is a huge hypocrite, with his own “illegal” activity to rectify, this brings up the issue of why any in-home, small enterprise should be taxed, regulated, or bothered.

Sure, if a business is bringing lots of customer traffic, or causing a nuisance, it may be reason to assess remedies, but I don’t sense that to be the case here.

[See also, “Boy Meets Local Control Freaks.”]

For six years I ran a broadcast services company out of my basement, adding zero negative impact to the county or city—not even my next-door neighbors would know what I did. I was bringing hundreds of thousands of dollars from out-of-state entities into Tennessee—and helping support two other families—and for that “offense” I was burdened with annual paperwork and fees that brought me absolutely no benefits.

The whole nonsense of business licensing and regulation needs to be ended. If others are harmed by what a businessman does, that can be handled in the legal system (if personal mediation fails). There is a huge overhang of government workers, at all levels, that needs to be booted. Those bureaucrats should be made to find productive work that adds to the economy, rather than acting as nothing but a drag on prosperity.