Don’t take my lemonade stand, and other tales of bureaucracy run amok

Janie Johnson of Douglas County has a book called “Don’t Take My Lemonade Stand.” It teaches children the principles of liberty and free enterprise using simple everyday examples that only a liberal could not comprehend. She shows up at conservative conferences to give motivational speeches and sell a few books.

Cartoon from Johnson's book

I was reminded of Ms. Johnson and her book by a recent column by the ever-irascible John Stossel. Inspired by one of the several news stories of children having their lemonade stands and Girl Scout cookie stands shut down by authorities, he recites the litany of bureaucratic hurdles one must leap to set up a simple lemonade stand in New York City. Here is but a brief sample:
“– Register as sole proprietor with the County Clerk’s Office (must be done in person)

“– Apply to the IRS for an Employer Identification Number.

“– Complete 15-hr Food Protection Course!

“– After the course, register for an exam that takes 1 hour. You must score 70 percent to pass. (Sample question: “What toxins are associated with the puffer fish?”) If you pass, allow three to five weeks for delivery of Food Protection Certificate.

“– Register for sales tax Certificate of Authority

“– Apply for a Temporary Food Service Establishment Permit. Must bring copies of the previous documents and completed forms to the Consumer Affairs Licensing Center.”

He doesn’t bother to list the cost of all the necessary fees or how much shoe leather and pants seat and tire tread is scuffed off in the interminable process of going from office to office and waiting and waiting and waiting, while the functionaries meander, drink coffee and ignore you.

I once followed a First Friday merchant on his monthly appointed rounds to get all the permits and pay all the fees associated with setting up a bar on his own property once a month in the Arts District. It was harrowing. It was expensive.

I’m told he recently wanted to set up a fire pit for cooking, but was told by the Health Department he first needed a permit from the Fire Department, which told him he first needed to obtain a permit from the Health Department.

And don’t even get me started on that Moapa farm-to-table event at which the health inspectors destroyed food because the event organizers failed to go hat in hand and on bended kneed to get permission to invite paying guests to eat their fresh food, which, gasp, everyone knew had not been given a stamp of approval by some far away inspector.

I once looked up what it would cost to set up a home-based business in Clark County. The fees alone ran more than $450.

In a land in which the default setting is supposed to be freedom, why does everything require a permit in advance and countless fees? We need to prune a few branches of government and feed the roots of the Tree of Liberty.

19 comments on “Don’t take my lemonade stand, and other tales of bureaucracy run amok

  1. Pat says:

    I understand that early last year Nevada State O.S.H.A. went to the Las Vegas Zoo, for the first time in the zoo’s 31 year history, in response to complaints filed by the usual suspects who want it closed.
    It took OSHA nine months of atempting to sustain the complaints. The feds who regulate zoo also inspected, as they do every year, and found no

    violations.
    Now OSHA is fining the non profit zoo over $13,000 and imposing the wearing of full body armor on zookeepers to prevent an animal’s
    bi
    bite or scratch, disregarding the fact it’s never happened. But

  2. Pat says:

    Sorry, I was cut off.
    But they may bite someday.
    The zoo may have to close if OSHA is allowed to dictate animal care, something they admit they know nothing about.

  3. Steve says:

    More and more, government at all levels see new business as instant revenue, not as long term growth.

  4. Athos says:

    Who wrote the story about killing the goose that laid the golden eggs?

    Is that taught anymore?

  5. Land of the Free? My butt! If the citizens don’t regain control of America, the USA will be dead in less than a decade!

  6. Golden goose? Obviously not an American.

    Sent from my iPhone

  7. nyp10025 says:

    In the entire history of New York City has a single child ever been prohibited from operating a lemonade stand?

  8. Happens every day somewhere, Petey.

    Sent from my iPhone

  9. Steve says:

    Did the work for you nyp.

    http://www.google.com/#hl=en&sclient=psy-ab&q=NYC+health+dept+shuts+down+lemon+aid+stand&pbx=1&oq=NYC+health+dept+shuts+down+lemon+aid+stand&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&gs_sm=3&gs_upl=27412l29142l1l29612l4l4l0l0l0l0l271l978l2-4l4l0&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.,cf.osb&fp=5bd2cb753ca5deb7&biw=1582&bih=782

    Such an easy thing to do. But no, you want to be contrary. Too many results to bother sifting through for one that fits your demand it be in NYC.

  10. nyp10025 says:

    Oh yeah – I see a story about an overzealous cop (what you call a “bureaucrat”) who went too far in enforcing the ordinance against vending in the middle of a public park. He was overruled, and the kids went back to selling their lemondade. Shocking, Absolutely shocking.
    By the way – do you guys think commercial vendors should be permitted to set up shop and sell whatever they want in the middle of public parks?

  11. Steve says:

    53,000 hits on that google search and that was all you “found” stop being so obtuse.

  12. nyp10025 says:

    Most of those “hits” are republications of the same tired story told over and over and over as it makes its way through the conservative echo chamber.

    I’m unimpressed that some overzealous cops thought that public park vending requirements applied to some kids selling lemonade.

  13. Athos says:

    Stop being obtuse? You telling petey to stop being obtuse?

    That reminds me of a song…….

    How can you stop the rain from falling down?
    How can you stop the sun from shining?
    What makes the world go round?

  14. Steve says:

    Athos, thanks!

    I should have said “don’t be obstreperous”

  15. Athos says:

    Don’t be a baby doctor?

  16. Athos says:

    Sorry, Steve. I couldn’t resist.

  17. Steve says:

    Athos , ;)

  18. fair enough that such stories are a problem, but take care that the branches you prune do not make the problem worse.

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