If you were with us last Friday, you will recall that the topic was the lemonade stand set up by two little girls in Overton, Texas for the purpose of raising money to buy their daddy a Father’s Day present.
Unlike the countless lemonade stands that set up shop in neighborhoods all over America every summer, this particular lemonade stand drew national attention – to the great consternation of the city elders of Overton.
As we reported, the two little girls in Overton were told that they needed a health permit and a peddler’s permit in order to sell their lemonade. The heaping of a regulatory burden intended for commercial businesses upon the backs of two small town little girls struck a chord, and there was a minor national uprising about it.
I spoke again with Overton Mayor C.R. Evans on Friday. There is good news that emerged from that conversation.
According to the mayor, had the girls not placed their lemonade stand in the street, the police officer who started all of this would have just driven by. But since they set themselves up in such a way as the officer judged to be dangerous, the officer got involved. From that involvement, the subject of regulatory compliance arose.
It is technically true that state law requires the issuance of a health permit in order to sell food. It is also true that there is no carve out in the law for the tiny enterprises of children.
But it is also true that common sense must play a role in the enforcement of any law. Making sure that the girls were situated in a way so as not to endanger themselves is perfectly appropriate. Holding a lemonade stand – an enterprise that will vanish as quickly as it appeared – to the same regulatory standard as a commercial business is perfectly ridiculous.
From what I gathered from Mayor Evans Friday, everyone involved now wishes that the subject of permits and regulatory compliance had never come up. Since this story arose, the City of Overton has been besieged by calls from the media and angry calls from ordinary Americans. The City of Overton knows this one could have been handled better, and has since bent over backwards to help those two little girls.
My conversation with Mayor Evans has me convinced that he’s a good man.
The bad news in all of this is that we have reached the point in America that a story such as this one is not only plausible but hardly surprising. In too many instances at every level of government in every corner of the country, the first instinct of regulators is to stifle enterprise.
The good news is, however, that we’re not yet ready to just take it lying down. There’s some fight left in us. There is a point at which we will rise up and protect our freedom.
The national attention that this story in Overton, Texas attracted is, in the end, a sign of health.