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June 17, 2011

Montgomery County shuts kids' lemonade stand

The licensing officers in Montgomery County, now famous thanks to 9 News Now's report yesterday and links from Drudge, are basically in the same position as Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot with regard to Internet cigar sales. They are required to enforce a law they probably don't really want to enforce.

Thanks to U.S. Open golf crowds, the streets near Congressional are packed and entrepreneurs are trying to make a buck. A couple families with adorable, made-for-TV, towheaded kids set up a drinks stand and put up a sign saying half the proceeds would go to charity. On cue, the heavy from the county showed up just as the TV cameras were there.

"Kids selling lemonade and making $5, $10 is a little bit different than making hundreds," the inspector told the mom on camera. "You've got coolers and coolers full of drinks here."

It looks like a larger-than-average kids' drinks operation. Like everything else involved with the pro golf tour, lemonade stands are big business. The county and its inspectors busting the place are in a no-win situation. They're getting tons of terrible publicity, but if the guy gives the kids a pass and his supervisors find out, he'll get in trouble. I can't find any accounts of outraged politicians getting involved yet, but that's the next step. Of course the incident has prompted tons of Twitter comments about nanny state etc. At least they could have waived the $500 fine!

HT Jim Pettit

Posted by Jay Hancock at 11:26 AM | | Comments (20)


Oh, man, I feel so bad for those government officials! Forced to make a tough decision based on a law that we passed! Oh my goodness! There should be a law against stupid laws that immediately makes them not laws because they're so stupid! Ya know? Right?

Maybe this type of thing will be enough for people to pay attention to the freedoms that our government is depriving us on a daily basis.

Nanny state is right... If anything, maybe it's an understatement.

Hah.. perfect case of life imitating art !

The Book "Help Mom, There are Liberals Under my Bed" was written about exactly this ! Prophetic.

I went to the last US Open at Congressional. If two families living in million dollar homes cannot afford the $316.80 for a 6 day vendor's license, maybe they should sell their home and move.

I would bet they're going to make upwards of $1,000 from the near weeklong event (if you include the sold out practice rounds). The proper business lesson for these kids would be, do your homework, comply with the law and collect the profit from your hard work. They are also not selling homemade lemonade; they're selling bottled beverages at an inflated price. Hiding behind a 50% donation to an unnamed charity is no justification.

They ignored a few warning before receiving the fine. Those families who are collecting parking revenue had to obtain a permit and non-residents who wanted to set up similar beverage stands were told no by the county.

No doubt they're Republican. They want to make money but don't want to follow the rules. Maybe they should reach a settlement where they admit no wrong doing like JP Morgan Chase. Maybe they can send one of their precious kids to Congress and ask for a bailout. No doubt they’ll be looking for defund the County Inspector’s office

“The message to kids is, there’s no American dream” – Really? What part of the American Dream includes thumbing your nose at the authorities and not following the rules set up by elected officials?

If these kids were a minority of some sort or illegal immigrants, Governor O'Malley would be lavishing praise on them and encouraging people to buy from them rather that licensed (get it?) vendors.

Hey! It's what liberal progressives do! KILL JOBS!

If they were illegal aliens this would not have happened! They were white kids and there is no support for them

Interesting on that on the same page that linked to this story, is the headline "Maryland loses 13,000 jobs".

Coincidence? or proof of Maryland's unfriendly business attitudes?

I guarantee if the people selling the lemonade were "the next new Americans" or a minority regardless of age, MOM, would have had his photo taken with them and it would have been on the front page of the Sun tomorrow. The headline would have said something about the governor supporting their entrepreneurial spirit and the American way.
I can`t believe that someone got their panties all up in a bunch over someone selling lemonade. What a stupid state that we live in.

"I'm just doing my job," or "I'm just following orders," the two most dangerous phrases in all of humanity.

Dan the statist,

So there's the $316.80 for the permit, but then you also need to factor in the time (aka. opportunity cost) of obtaining the permit. You then must divide this total sunk cost into your total unit sales and adjust your price accordingly.

In practice, most people who at first have the idea will throw up their hands and simply say it is not worth it. The end result, why do you think drink prices are so jacked up at these events? It's the entry barriers stupid. If not for them these kids would understand how markets really work, ambitious upstarts undercut each other until they're selling drinks for a small percentage over what they paid to buy them at Costco.

Your statist entry barriers increase unemployment, drive up prices, lower real wages, limit choice, choke progress and innovation, are regressively burdensome, and facilitate a welfare transfer from society as a whole into the hands of those who are big enough to comply with the entry barriers cost effectively.

Dan, you are no liberal, you are no progressive. You are a pure statist.

Hey Dan - are you Dan the Fan? Why are you rolling on your neighbors. And why are you so tough on the only republicans tha live in Monty County. Are you upset because you couldn't make a buck too?

Josh Dowlut makes a good point.

$316 for a permit alone.
That would mean the kids would have to increase their cost per unit sold to make that up in the short time their business would be running.
That increased cost may very well limit the amount of sales they make thus lowering their profit thus lowering the boost to the economy they may have produced without the need for an expensive permit. That means fewer dollars due in taxes which mean less into the legislooters hands which then means increased taxes to pay for the increased spending.

THAT my friends is a micro economics lesson in OVER REGULATION and its cost added to every product we purchase with the dollar that is worth less and less.

Liberal policies at work.

Too many people in here putting their own political views into the mixing bowl. The issue is that they didn't get a permit. Other Vendors doing the same thing they were doing had to get the permits. You can't let them slide because they are kids. This isn't some street corner lemonade stand. These stands at the U.S. Open can make thousands. Your talking about 4 days of actual play, plus the 2 days of practice rounds that bring huge crowds. 6 Days in total and those coolers full of drinks will sell out each day while their parents are helping them. You let it go, then next year you have some vendor selling gear and drinks with their kids taking the money and justify it by this. Again, I think people are picturing a stand that gets 10 bucks in a day. Not the case at these events. Every day I go, I buy 1 drink as I'm walking. So do thousands of other people. It doesn't have anything to do with killing jobs or politics. Events across the U.S. have vendors who buy permits. It helps the local government or event organizers have some type of accountability for the people selling stuff so you don't have some crack head ex con selling you expired soda.

This sort of BS belongs in Washington DC not in real life. Nice lesson for the kids. A permit necessary to sell lemonade by kids is absolutely what this country may provoke the kids to grow up and take this country back from the buffoons!


You spell out the need to increase the state's burden of depriving economic liberty from its current rational basis, to the much higher strict scrutiny that apply to personal freedoms such as 1a, 2a, and 4a.

You can apply your worst case scenario argument to everything, and in doing so support our current framework of needing to first get the permission of the government before you can do anything to earn a living. These entry barriers are the very foundation of a vertical hierarchy that favors employment over self-employment by shifting market power toward employers, and assists in employers rent-seeking off employees.

people complaining about government officials following the letter of the law, would they rather the officials look the other way-as some do when it comes to traffic tickets- there would be a outcry... how about following the rules(everybody) with no one receiving special treatment... that is an important lesson that the kids should learn at an early age...

Hmmm....guess those kids weren't related to the right politicians.......
If they were illegals, they'd get that stand AND a cheap tuition!!!

We need to know the names of these a-hole government officials so we can SHAME them. Picking on little kids earning money for pediatric cancer. I can't even imagine what they were thinking(oh if forgot their just government goons doing their jobs) SHAME on all of you!!!! Who are these people they need to be fired immediately!!!!!!!

Perhaps there could be a permit that is for just a day or two for entrepreneurial children like this that costs $30 or so.

$316.80 for what? Does the county come and set up and clean up afterwards? Do they provide business assistance, advice, or advertising?

Or do you just pay the money and then they leave you alone? Sounds like a flat out bribe to me.

So, what I get from this story is this: Montgomery County hates kids with cancer.

(Hmm, I think I have a future with the Sun!)

Pay the bribe ("permit fee'") or go to jail
this is what this country is comming to.

What Children thinking for themslves and helping others!! We cant have that (Germany 1930-45 and Russia 1919-88)

It is all about the "bribe" and "control"

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About Jay Hancock
Jay Hancock has been a financial columnist for The Baltimore Sun since 2001. He has also been The Baltimore Sun's diplomatic correspondent in Washington and its chief economics writer. Before moving to Baltimore in 1994 he worked for The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk and The Daily Press of Newport News.

His columns appear Tuesdays and Sundays.

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