Gov’t Run Wild: Overton Girls Busted for Selling Unregulated Lemonade

Photo: Sandi Evans

Two little girls in Overton, Texas named Zoey and Andria Green, aged 7 and 8 respectively, made the mistake of thinking they could sell lemonade to raise money for a Father’s Day gift without obtaining the appropriate clearances from our hyper-regulatory super-government.  They received a valuable civics lesson when the police descended upon their unregulated lemonade stand and forced them to shut it down, after they’d been in business for only an hour.

It cannot be said that the government always moves with agonizing slowness.  It might take it a year or so to notice Chinese hackers rooting around in every federal database, but the whiff of unlicensed lemonade in the hands of small children brings the regulators running.

“We had kettle corn and lemonade,” little Zoe told the Washington Times.  “The lemonade was for 50 cents and the kettle corn was a dollar, but if you got both it was a dollar.”

Lemonade and unregulated kettle corn?  She’s just lucky a code enforcement officer and the police chief got to her before Michelle Obama’s Food Police swung into action.  They probably have a SWAT team by now.  Every other federal agency does.

Zoe’s mom, Sandi Evans, praised her girls for resourcefully seeking to earn their own money, even at such a tender age, and found their treatment at the hands of the regulators “ridiculous.”

“I think they’re 7 and 8 and they’re just trying to make money for their own cause,” said Ms. Evans.

Well, now they know how what remains of capitalism works in this sorry crony-infested politicized age of gigantic, oppressive, and irresponsible government, ma’am.  That’s probably a more valuable lesson than anything they learned in school that day.  Next time, I suggest donating at least $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation to secure favorable treatment from agencies of the State before trying a stunt like this.

Believe it or not, this story gets even more stupid and offensive, before it gets better.  As the Tyler Morning Telegraph reports, when he learned of the little girls’ plight, helpful neighbor Charlie Perkins ran down to the city offices to buy the $150 “peddler’s permit” they needed… only to learn that “the girls also needed a health department permit.”  The police chief and city secretary considered waiving the peddler’s permit fee – thanks for your benevolent indulgence, mercurial bureaucracy! – but they couldn’t do anything about the health department requirements.

The police also tried to justify the crackdown by claiming the lemonade stand was in a potentially unsafe location, described as the “middle of the street,” before it was gently pointed out to them that the street in question is a dead-end cul-de-sac.  In any event, moving the stand after a friendly warning from the constables would surely have been a trivial exercise.

Fortunately, the sisters learned their lesson about modern crapitalism very well, because they already found a loophole that will let them stay in business.  As reported in a piece with the insanely cheerful headline “Girls Turn Lemons into Lemonade after Police Shut Down Stand” – as if this was a happy story, and not a horrifying demonstration of how far America has slipped down the path of socialist corruption – USA Today reports the girls and their mother realized they an “give the lemonade away for free and take donations.”

They’re going to re-open their lemonade stand Saturday, from 10:00 A.M. to noon.  “I don’t guess that would be illegal,” Chief Carter allowed.  Maybe his guess will turn out to be wrong, and a squad of frowning regulators will swarm through the neighborhood on Saturday morning and take down the free-lemonade operation.

“I’m sad that we closed it down, but I’m happy that we got to open it back up,” said Zoey.  Apparently the deadly bacteria that might otherwise breed within unregulated lemonade take weekends off, and become inert if the beverage is given away while donations are coincidentally accepted in a cookie jar inches from the lemonade pitcher.  Only capitalist transactions cause the germs to go hot and infect unwary consumers.

Police Chief Clyde Carter and Overton City Manager Charles Cunningham said they were only following guidelines they had no part in writing.  Cunningham pointed out that the anti-lemonade-stand regulations are Texas state laws, not a local ordinance.  “We are not out looking for people selling lemonade, but in this case, the police chief was driving around and saw them in the road and stopped due to safety concerns,” he explained.

Ah, so it’s a crap shoot as to whether your kids fall prey to this idiocy.  They might be able to get away with running a contraband lemonade cartel, or they might catch the eye of a roving regulator and get busted.  No word as to whether the Ministry of Lemonade has a network of undercover informants to keep an eye out for renegade munchkins defying the law.

Since this is the sort of thing children do a lot – especially if their parents and grandparents tell them tales of what childhood was like in the freer, stronger America of their youth – shouldn’t there be some sort of educational program to teach school students that permits must be pulled before opening a lemonade stand?  Or, better yet, to teach them they can sell all the sweet lemony revolution-ade they want, provided they “give it away” for free and collect “donations” on the side, nudge-nudge wink-wink?

By the way, the reason our young entrepreneurs decided to set up their lemonade stand was to raise $105 to take their dad – who “works in an oil field and is gone a lot,” according to their mother – to Splash Kingdom for Father’s Day.  They only managed to raise $25 before law and code enforcement cracked down on them (God help them if the IRS decides to take an interest, too.)

The story has a happy ending, thanks to what remains of free America and its boundlessly generous people, who have a way of doing things the bloated regulatory State cannot conceive of.  Two local radio stations donated theme park tickets to the family after learning of their plight.  Now for an even happier ending, I hope every corporation in America has an eye on these plucky girls for recruitment when they grow up.  They work for what they want, they remain cheerful in the face of ridiculous adversity, they learn quickly, and they’re already adept at cutting through red tape.


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