Free-Range Kids

New Jersey Kids Finally Have the Right to Shovel Snow

They didn't before.



Fast on the heels of the Federal legislation allowing kids the right to walk to school comes this new ordinance in New Jersey: The right of kids to shovel.

As reports:

Legislation sponsored by Senator Mike Doherty (R-23) ensuring that kids have the right to offer snow shoveling services before storms without municipal approval was signed into law by Governor Chris Christie.

The law was prompted by the sorry story just about a year ago, when two Bound Brook, NJ, high school students tried to make some money shoveling their neighbors' driveways, only to find out this was against the law:

School was closed for the blizzard that wasn't, but there was still enough snow on the ground that two high school seniors thought they could make a few extra bucks.

In the process, Matt Molinari and Eric Schnepf, both 18, also learned a valuable lesson about one of the costs of doing business: government regulations.

The two friends were canvasing a neighborhood near this borough's border with Bridgewater early Monday evening, handing out fliers promoting their service, when they were pulled over by police and told to stop.

The story was shared on a popular Bound Brook Facebook group by a resident who saw Schnepf being questioned by police after coming to his door.

The deal was simply this: Bound Brook had a law against unlicensed solicitors and peddlers.

In the end, the kids weren't arrested and the police brass insisted the intervention was only because the snow made being outside unsafe. What's more:The pair managed to get five jobs by early Tuesday afternoon, earning between $25 to $40 a house.

That's what my kids are charging, too, if anyone's interested. We're in Jackson Heights, Queens. Give a shout!

NEXT: 'Oppression Studies,' Actual Oppression Coming to American University

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. $25 to $40? I am outraged.


      1. These gougers need to be punished. I suggest a Robin Hood tax of 110% of the earnings of anyone who offers to shovel snow for pay if a) they do not routinely shovel snow for a living and/or b) they demand a fee increase over their price for shoveling on days when there is no snow.

    2. There goes Reason’s non-profit status.

  2. In the process, Matt Molinari and Eric Schnepf, both 18, also learned a valuable lesson about one of the costs of doing business: government regulations.

    “Welcome to the labyrinth kid, only there ain’t no puppets or bisexual rock stars down.”

  3. I’d like to know how regulations that prevent kids from getting paid for shoveling snow have any rational basis whatsoever.

    1. I just assumed there is some racket controlling this business. Protecting your kids from that might be rational.

    2. It’s for the safety of the children. Are you saying you hate children?!?

    3. Progs would say “because unions”. 😛

  4. Why does the article repeat itself, with the news article in block quotes and not? Editor anyone?

    1. SKWIRLZ!

  5. So, the French government has decided that the AZERTY keyboard (which they pushed decades ago) is lousy for typing French with.

    So they plan to have a gold star team design a new standard for French keyboards.

    Because even though the Swiss and Quebecois have managed to handle this ‘problem’ without government intervention, the French people are incapable of marketing a new keyboard on their own. After all, can’t let the people *experiment* until they find one that’s suitable – then what would all those ‘Top Men’ in the French language police do?

  6. Work without belonging to a union ? Horrors.

  7. Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go to tech tab for work detail.

    Click This Link inYour Browser……._+_+_+_+_+_+_+_+_+

    1. And you don’t have to get cold, wet, or police-harassed doing so.

  8. Did the kids need a “business” license from the municipality the county or perhaps the state, with the payment of license fees?

  9. What’s this about a federal law allowing kids to walk to school, or did I misread?

    1. You didn’t misread, but that’s not accurate. The law in question was an amendment to the No Child Left Behind legislation. A provision was added that specified that nothing in the new law precluded children from walking to school. Presumably this was added because of outrage over some parents being prosecuted by local authorities for letting their kids walk to various places on their own. But this provision explicitly does not preempt any state or local laws. So it really has no teeth.

  10. NY/NJ is something else when it comes to jaw-droppingly stupid laws and ordinances.


    1. Even the exemption is stupid: “no ordinance regulating solicitation for services shall be applicable to solicitations, whether written or oral, for snow shoveling services made within 24 hours of a snowstorm that has been predicted by a commonly recognized commercial or governmental weather reporting entity.”

      What’s the point of applicability only within 24 hours of a snowstorm, let alone that it had to have been predicted? I don’t even see how anyone derives any rent from the exemption’s not applying to unpredicted storms or after 24 hrs. Maybe the thought of that last point was to encourage people to provide service promptly or for property owners to get prompt removal, but the prediction requirement is a mindfuck.

  11. That’s what my kids are charging, too, if anyone’s interested. We’re in Jackson Heights in Queens, New York City.

    (I see the squirrels doubled you up too. Ha!)
    What’s your take as their agent/owner? Are they still responsible for all the monocles they could have polished if they hadn’t been shoveling snow?
    I wonder what the connection is between free range chickens, free range golden geese, and free range kids with snow shovels?

  12. This illustrates one of my pet peeves, the proliferation of laws. Why is there not a single law against theft? Why instead do we have so many laws against embezzlement, armed robber, pickpocketing, etc?

    In this particular case, why does the law only exempt shoveling snow? Why not mowing lawns, washing cars, etc?

    1. Because it’s never been enforced against anyone doing those things, probably. After that happens they’ll get their own narrow exemption.

  13. So the once utopia of Joisey now turned into libertarian hell? These libertarians have way too much power, someone has to stop them.

    1. It’s basically Somalia at this point

  14. ‘That’s what my kids are charging, too, if anyone’s interested. We’re in Jackson Heights, Queens. Give a shout!’
    The squirrels liked this line so much they put it in twice. Lenore must be one of their favorites.

    1. Well, at least we know who the new robber barons are. These shovel kids have to be stopped!

  15. Yeah I think this article needs a bit of editing.

  16. The law didn’t grant the kids the right to shovel. It restricted the states wrongful attempts to restrict the rights they were born with. Government lacks the ability to grant rights, it can only protect or restrict.

    1. I believe the counterargument is that rights cease to exist if no one is there to enforce them, just as gods cease to exist when no one worships them. Freedom means asking permission and obeying orders. If no one says you can do X, and no one has told you to do X, then what gives you the right to do X? Rights are like authority. They don’t exist unless someone grants them. As opposed to power, which is unlimited. Who can take power away? No one. Who can take rights away? People with power. So what really is real, power or rights?

      1. If a tree falls in the woods,…

        Yes, I’ve heard that argument and its silly. A person’s natural state is free, a government with power can userp that. But that causes no change in the natural state. In addition, power is real, but not eternal. The Romans no longer rule the known world, Nazis didn’t last too long, and the American experiment is being crushed under its own weight.

        1. What’s natural about a free state?

          1. External force is required to remove freedom.

            1. Negative liberty. You shouldn’t use freedom because to liberals it means having the resources to fulfill your potential. Resources secured by force.

              1. I refuse to allow progressives to hijack perfectly useful terms like freedom and liberal. They are not liberal, and freedom is a component of liberty that requires personal responsibility and effort.

  17. two questions:
    can you pump your own gas yet?
    how long before sidewalk shoveling is required?

    1. how long before sidewalk shoveling is required?

      The horror

  18. This is the sort of ordinance that’s enforceable only once, for the reason shown.

  19. Thank God! The orphans I use are now legal.

  20. In CA kids used to fit chains to cars on the way up the Sierras, and they got a decent pay. It was either local kids earning dope money or sometimes ski-bums earning lift money; regardless, it was kids doing it because they could make some dough.
    Well, the CA state gov’t noticed it was missing some vigorish, so:

    “Chain Installer Application (TR-0106)”
    (you’ll have to search; gov’t web addys don’t auto-shrink)

    Yep, $164 bucks, please and ‘Papiere bitte’.

  21. Yay!

    We need laws to be human.


    1. Whose orphan is that in the picture. He looks well trained.

      1. A little overfed, IMO.

        Unless he’s stealing food from his fellows, that is.

  22. The squirrels are loose in articles now!

    We need digital cats.

    1. [Do not google “digital pussy”]

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.