Well, I guess I’m guilty. Lock me up with bread and water. Certainly no lemonade.
I facilitated what now can be construed as an offense, though the real crime was probably a failure of capitalism rather than failing to follow local rules on permitting.
You see, I’m a parent. One day nearly 20 years ago, my young son said he wanted to have a lemonade stand. I helped make that happen.
I saw this as a golden moment of teaching, so we got busy. There used to be a fruit stand in Knobtown. We – my son, my wallet and I – drove down there and got a crate of lemons.
Which takes a lot of sugar, so I supplied that, too. And ice. And cups and a pitcher. Table, chair, hat, sunscreen – even a cigar box for the cash.
Yes, I bankrolled the whole criminal enterprise. I thought I was teaching an 8-year-old that work can equal immediate and tangible reward. But it did not occur to me to run this past the Department of Permission, so there he was, running a free-range, unregulated, unapproved business. It was like watching the last wild whooping crane glide off into the sunset.
The very nerve of me.
This is in the news because it’s summer, and there are reports here and there of children’s lemonade stands being shut down by The Man because they didn’t get a permit to be on the sidewalk, or whatever.
In one of the two or three “Star Trek” movies that wasn’t awful, Dr. McCoy said the bureaucratic mindset is the only constant in the universe. This is truth, so the idea of City Hall somewhere in America shutting down an innocent kid doing, like, the most American thing ever doesn’t seem far-fetched.
Of course, Big Lemonade – I won’t name names, but it sells a powder that it calls lemonade – has jumped in to pump up the outrage and ride to the rescue with a Twitter campaign and the whole thing. Fine. Nothing is so simple and pure that it cannot be corporatized.
As I recall, my son brought in about $6, which he kept, which was fine. His startup costs, from the Bank of Dad, were somewhere under $20.
So the fruit stand made money. My son – now a successful, respectful, well-adjusted young adult – made money. Neighbors enjoyed lemonade and the added pleasure of encouraging a young person learning a good life lesson. I spent money, which I thought was part of the deal.
In capitalistic terms, I lost money and probably committed a moral crime by not forcing the boy to come up with his own $20 before earning $6 so he could lose $14. But that seemed more complicated. I was going for the simple lesson. At any rate, I did not cash in my losses with the IRS, and that I’m sure is the far greater sin against capitalism.
I tell you this: I would do it again. Life without lemonade is not worth living. So I am what prosecutors call a hardened criminal. I’m not a repeat offender, but I’m ready to go there. No, your honor, no contrition from me. Lock me up. I could use a break.
– Jeff Fox is The Examiner’s editor. Reach him at 816-350-6365 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He’s on Twitter at @FoxEJC.