Friday, August 6, 2010

Saving the public from illegal lemonade stands

It was only a matter of time before this would happen.

County officials in Portland, Oregon shut down a lemonade stand because the 7-year-old operator didn't have a $120 temporary restaurant license.

Technically, any lemonade stand -- even one on your front lawn -- must be licensed under state law, said Eric Pippert, the food-borne illness prevention program manager for the state's public health division.
The reason they shut down this criminal operation is that little Julie Murphy brought her stand to a public event, instead of the seedy suburban streets where black market lemonade usually thrives.

Say there was a crackdown on unlicensed lemonade stands. What would the preschool merchants do if they had to pay $120 for the right to be in business?

The industry as a whole would be destroyed due to a dead weight loss. The start-up cost would be incredibly high, and the price of a glass of lemonade would have to rise considerably. Customers would buy less and profits would fall. The only reason this industry is allowed to exist is because it's publicly unpopular to enforce the existing laws.

UPDATE The county has apologized to Julie.

"A lemonade stand is a classic iconic American kid thing to do," county Chairman Jeff Cogen said. "I don't want to be in the business of shutting that down."

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