The modern state: protecting us from us.

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Listen To You Tell Me Texas Friday 6/12/15

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Every now and then, this piece just writes itself. Thanks to the leadership of the City of Overton, Texas, this is one of those times.

When I was a kid in growing up in Amarillo, Texas I browbeat my mother one day into helping me set up a Kool-Aid stand. I hand lettered a sign and, with her help, mixed up a pitcher of red Kool-Aid, hauled a folding card table out to the curb and set up shop.

It was the middle of summer, sweltering hot and I validated that day the retail maxim “location, location, location” – which is to say, my residential street didn’t have a lot of drive-by traffic.

I sold the entirety of two cups before the heat drove me out of business. One was to the sweet old lady who lived caddy-corner across the street. The other was to the Amarillo police officer, who saw me from the corner intersection about three houses down as he was driving by, and took a detour. Total gross sales; ten cents.

Jump a half century forward to Wednesday in nearby Overton and two little girls setting up a lemonade stand to raise money to buy their daddy a Father’s Day present. Down upon them came the full weight of the 21st century American state.

The Overton police, rather than buying a cup of lemonade, shut them down. At least that’s what you and I would call it. But not the semanticists of the City of Overton. Overton mayor C.R. Evans was at pains to to tell me that the girls were not “shut down.” According to him they were simply told that they could not sell lemonade without obtaining a permit.

For those of us not in government, we call that “a distinction without a difference.”

The mayor went on to explain that such permitting is required by state law as a public health protection.

It must be a great comfort to the residents of Overton to know that they may sleep soundly at night, secure in the knowledge that no lemonade stand – devoid of the proper certificates and inspections and rubber stamps – can possibly threaten to unleash upon them a lemonade-borne pandemic.

I’d have a lot more respect for Mayor Evans if he had said, “I wish we had this one to do over.” But he instead did what all statists do when they get called out. He hid behind a hyper-literal interpretation of regulation and statute while intoning solemnly about public safety. (By a show of hands who has ever heard of someone getting sick from a kid’s lemonade stand? No one? Me neither.)

So our nation has devolved since we were handed its reins by our parents – the people who defeated Adolph Hitler and put men on the moon.

In the country they bequeathed to us, the lemonade stand was an All-American rite of passage – a first foray into entrepreneurism. In the country we are leaving to those two little girls in Overton, a lemonade stand animates the sprawling apparatus of the modern regulatory state — the first instinct of which is to stifle freedom and enterprise.

Paul Gleiser

Paul L. Gleiser is president of Gleiser Communications, LLC, licensee of radio stations KTBB 97.5 FM/AM600, 92.1 The Team FM & KYZS in Tyler-Longview, Texas.

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4 Responses

  1. Linda E. Montrose says:

    Extremism is well and thriving in our country thanks to the liberal agenda. I do not believe that most regulations are for the betterment of anything except to line the pockets of politicians. It seems like ANYTHING that benefits the individual is at risk of being taken away from us by some NEW rule or regulation!

  2. This sort of thing burns me up. Government will protect us from everything, but oh by the way, at the cost of our liberty. Sometimes this hiding behind regulations gets laughable. For example, in the city where I live, Arlington, our city council is spending $3.5 million dollars tearing down our perfectly good city council chamber. Why? Because they want a fancy new one to feed their pigeon-puffed egos. They knew citizens would never approve a bond issue with something so silly in it, so the council issued “certificates of obligation,” bonds intended for emergencies that don’t require citizen approval. We MUST do this, the council claims, because the current council chamber isn’t ADA compliant. If that is so, why aren’t they demolishing all the other non-compliant city buildings? I for one am not eager to trust any part of my safety and freedom to people who so readily lie to me.

  3. Philip Cox says:

    Paul,

    It pains me to realize that you are just another Journalist chasing Infotainment and sensational stories with no regard for the truth or the lives of good People. I only have two radio stations programed in my automobiles and it’s 600AM and 97.5FM, I’m deleting them both and I’m canceling my plans to visit Kiepersol Estates with family and friends You were the only media outlet I trusted…

    CR Evans is a good man and a Small Government, Low Taxes advocate with a proven track record you can review to confirm, he is as conservative as they come. The Chief of Police and the Officer involved are both good honest people with years of service in Overton and I trust them with my Life!! I’ve lived in Overton my entire life but I’ve traveled the whole Country and a lot of the World. What keeps me in Texas and Overton specifically is that compared to most other places our Government is almost invisible unless you do something stupid!

    I’ll be the first to admit that the incident should have been handled differently by the Police Officers. I believe instead of trying to tip toe around all the heavy handed Police incidents that have been reported by the media in the last few months they should have followed normal procedure. The Officer probably could have arrested the Parent for reckless endangerment of children. But instead they just tried to use ordinances and abstract laws to get the folks back in their own yard.

    What has been ignored in this story and the other Small Town Representatives failed to articulate is that the little girls lemonade stand was blocking the North bound Lane of their street, directly on the corner of 850, a four lane road. They were not in front of their home, they were several houses down. 850 happens to be the road that High School kids drag race down, its an approximate 1/4 mile long stretch and it has four lanes so the kids can drive side by side while they race. The Police work hard to keep racing out but they can’t stop it all. The Officer that came across the little girls blocking the street works code enforcement, so thats the angle she took to resolve getting the street cleared and make a point. The little girls were put in danger by their parent placing their table in the street and the Officer was more concerned with preventing some High School kid from having to live with running over little girls in the street than how she approached them. Unlike you Paul, the operators of this Lemonade Stand couldn’t live with selling just two cups of Lemonade out of their front yard where no one but neighbors could see them.

    The little girls lemonade stand is still in operation to this day, only now its located in their own yard. The Parent was posting on Facebook last night all the Lemonade purchased to keep the stand going.

    Any other children that would like to open an Lemonade, Cool Aid or Coffee stand in the City of Overton, TX for the summer please feel welcome to do so. But just do so in your own yard only, not in city streets. If someone does block a city street and or endanger children then I’m sure the Officers will quickly respond appropriately.

    Come to Overton, enjoy our little town, you can even stop by the Lemonade stand and get a cup, unless the parent decides to shut it down on their own!! While you’re there watch the dash cam video of the officer pulling over and exiting her patrol car to get the little girls out of the street. Pull your own car over in the same spot on the East corner of 850 and Garden Club, then you’ll have the whole story.

    Philip

  4. Philip, The lessen here, among others, is that even good conservatives sometimes shoot themselves in the foot by enacting bits of liberalism (excessive regulation in this case), but we can take comfort in noting that it is the liberals, now calling themselves progressives, who are in the habit of shooting themselves in the foot with machine guns.

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