COMMENTARY: Government, leave kids alone and let them make a buck selling lemonade

lemonade
Haylibug Lemonadez, a refreshment stand once located along East Court Street, is no longer in operation. Kankakee city and county officials advised the operators to halt sales because of various violations. In photo above, Hayli, 11, and her mother, Iva Martenez, are seen operating the stand in June. (Mandatory credit: Laura McElroy/Kankakee Daily Journal)

In the past several years, there has been a crackdown by government officials and law enforcement against young entrepreneurs, kids who sell lemonade and iced tea to people traveling around the neighborhood. These kids are perhaps wanting to make money to get that newest toy or if they’re willing to work hard, raise money for charitable causes like Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation or Compassion International.

Now, neighborhoods are under constant assault from police and politicians who feel kids should be forced to abide by health department standards or attain business licensing. Kids today are being forced to abide by ridiculous standards where they have to comply or be slapped down with fines and penalties — and have their stand destroyed and money stolen.

Why can’t they learn about running a business without all these ridiculous rules and regulations? I remember running a lemonade stand with my younger brother when we lived along a major roadway with considerable road traffic. We didn’t need licensing. We didn’t need to comply with health department codes. Cops occasionally bought lemonade or sweet tea from our booth and never threatened to shut us down.

Why can’t those days of innocence still exist today? The simple answer to that question: Corrupt, greedy governments and crooked law enforcement whose only goal is to become revenue pirates.

It’s crazy that one private-sector corporation who has made their money on lemonade products — Country Time — had to come to the defense of these entrepreneurial youth.

Now the latest travesty in this war on lemonade brings us to Kankakee, Illinois, where an 11-year-old child was selling lemonade outside her home to save for her college fund. (A great cause, by the way, in hopes to avoid the scourage of student loan debt.)

In the story, the child ran a small high-profile stand called Haylibug Lemonadez, which sold bottles of lemonade for 50 cents each, even after a story about the address at 1042 E. Court Street being declared a historic landmark by the Kankakee County Board helped the business boom.

Then, officials from K3 city and the county’s health department warned with a cease and desist notice to shut down the business or face a fine.

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Libertarian county board member Jim Byrne expressed his outrage regarding the incident Thursday:

Byrne was behind the infamous Cupcake Ordinance, coming to the defense of entrepreneurs who made cupcakes in the comfort of their homes. Byrne, just like Country Time, wants to fight for these kids wanting to make money doing a little bit of good in the world, put a smile to the face of people and make a little pocket change in the process.

It’s incredibly ridiculous that such an innocent act of good can be treated like a criminal act.

Jake Leonard is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed and GM/program director of the Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network. Leonard is also general manager of Heartland Internet Media Networks and an active contributor to four newspapers for Pana News Group.