Thursday, July 28, 2011

Little Girls and Lemonade

Every once in a while you read about someone who got in trouble for flying a flag on a flagpole, rather than from the porch of their house, or displaying a sign in support of the troops, or their son or daughter who is serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. There was a case recently in which a woman was threatened with 93 days for growing vegetables in her front yard. Most of these cases should probably be dealt with informally and reasonable accommodations made. There were a couple of cases involving little girls, well, maybe not so little, I think they may have been as old as 14, getting harassed and fined by the cops for selling lemonade. There was a case in Maryland in which the girls were selling lemonade from their home near some golf game or other. Their parents were fined because the girls did not have a business license. There was also a case in Georgia in which the girls were harassed and the porcine thugs justified their behavior on the grounds that they did not know what was in the lemonade. Presumably it was lemons, water, and sugar, and that could have been verified by tasting it. Of course, if you’ve eaten too many donuts you may not be able to taste the sugar in lemonade.

Now I’ve heard both actions justified on the grounds that it was “for the children,” because it protected them from sunburn, and that people really need assurance as to the quality of their food. So the spirit of the Pure Food and Drug Act, passed during the era in which little girls and boys reveled in their freedom to run lemonade stands, invoked to justify the Thuggees of Maryland and Georgia. In the case of the Georgia girls, they decided to earn money by doing chores for their parents.

What’s interesting here is that, as with virtually all liberal programs, there is a pronounced negative effect.

It denies the girls the freedom to enter into commercial transactions without the prior approval of the state. They are thus deprived of an important experience that would benefit them in their future careers as thinking, voting people. It infantilizes them. Doing chores for mommy and daddy is vastly different than running your own business, and making a profit. It increases their dependency on outside agency, and furnishes a pattern of dependency for their future life. In the future the dependency will move from the personal mommy and daddy to the institutional mommy and daddy of government, and its paternalistic benevolence.

It’s for your own good, and you need us. What more could a tyranny do for its people?

So how about freedom for little girls and their lemonade stands?