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N.Y. Fair Vendors Have Nearby 7-Year-Old's Porch Lemonade Stand Shut Down

When life hands you lemons, call the health department to complain.

Lemonade standChernetskaya / Dreamstime.comKid sets up a lemonade stand outside his home, which happens to be next door to the Saratoga County Fair in Ballston Spa, New York. Vendors at the fair call state health officials to complain. State health officials show up, determine the kid doesn't have a permit, and shut him down.

In case anybody needs a reminder of why a lemonade brand actually produced a marketing campaign in which it funded kids so they could legally operate lemonade stands, there you go. It's also a helpful reminder that while we're told that permitting and licensing programs are all about public safety, they are frequently used as bludgeons to keep competitors out of the marketplace.

And what a stupid fight this was. The Albany Times Union has the details. Vendors were selling fresh lemonade inside the fair for $7 a cup. Brendan Mulvaney, 7, was selling premixed lemonade from his family's porch for 75 cents a cup. Four separate vendors called state health officials to complain and ask if Mulvaney had a permit. He did not. So a health inspector actually came to the family home over the weekend and shut the lemonade stand down.

According to Mulvaney's dad, officials initially apologized after they realized they were just shutting down some kid's stand, not somebody trying to undercut the vendors inside the fair. But on Monday, officials from the state's Health Department said the boy would have to get a $30 temporary food permit, which is good for a year and comes with all sorts of rules.

Politicians are now falling all over themselves to get publicity for supporting the boy. Republican state Senator James Tedisco showed up at the kid's stand after it made the news and complained, "These kids are trying to give people sweet lemonade and learn some important business skills but the overzealous state bureaucrats in the administration just keep giving taxpayers lemons." Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (facing re-election in November) offered to pay the kid's permit fees.

Perhaps these politicians can direct some attention to the state's burdensome occupational licensing and training programs that do the same thing to adults that the health department did to a 7-year-old. The Institute for Justice notes that becoming a barber in New York State requires two and a half years of professional training. Becoming a child care worker requires a year of training, more than in any other state besides New Jersey.

Sadly, not enough people make the connection between these lemonade crackdowns and the broader ways licensing and permitting laws restrict people's ability to earn a living. They see stories like this as an outrageous abuse of authority, but they often don't question the authority itself. They really should.

Photo Credit: Chernetskaya / Dreamstime.com

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  • John||

    If only he had been doing something positive like smoking weed, he would have been okay.

  • Happy Chandler||

    Damnit, I came here to say that.

  • Libertymike||

    John, OT: In another thread this morning you complimented Tim Cavanaugh. Good point as he deserves to be complimented.

    You also told it like it is with respect to Julian Sanchez. Anybody here who refers to him as some kind of authority or bell-weather for libertarianism has been hanging around too long with Michael Hihn.

  • ||

    Well, I guess Julian Sanchez isn't going to fuck you, or John.

  • John||

    Sorry to disappoint you Isaac, but Jullian isn't really my type and neither are you.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    too skinny

  • ||

    :)

    John, I wondered if anyone remembered.

  • John||

    Sanchez is totally in on the FBI and Intel community being above reproach and the whole Russian bullshit. He is one step above Jennifer Rubin level crazy. What a clown.

  • JoeJoetheIdiotCircusBoy||

    I seriously doubt he would have been okay (or his parents for that matter) if city officials got a call that a 7 year old was smoking weed on his front porch.

  • John||

    It was a joke about New York City no longer taking pot cases.

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    Even your circus monkeys got the sarcasm.

  • Hamster of Doom||

    Another day in the life, here in You Can't Do That America.

  • Juice||

    Land of the Free*

    *Void where prohibited. Restrictions apply.

  • Hamster of Doom||

    Ooh, hey, maybe some of the smarty science-y guys here know this one. I've been trying to find research, or studies, or any sort of thing, really, on whether poverty is a state found in nature. Y'know, animal kingdom style of thing. Do polar bears or muskrats or deer ticks have poverty?

    I'm not talking famine, I'm talking entire sections of the species who cannot/do not act to sustain themselves. It seems to be a uniquely human condition, and yet I'd like to see if there's anything I can read up on it without just giving in to "sounds true enough." Help a brother out.

  • Libertymike||

    Do you want us to do the research?

  • Hamster of Doom||

    I was hoping someone already knew where to find the research. If any exists. I've tried every search string I can think of, and no joy. Either my search-fu is failing me, or the research doesn't exist, or maybe it's being performed and filed away under a specific science jargon of which I have never heard.

    7 billion humans out there, the odds aren't good that I'm the first to be curious about it. I just don't know whether anyone has studied it.

  • Libertymike||

    If a particular animal of a given species does not act to sustain himself, its probably a pretty good bet that he will be lunch. In fact, such a critter will much sooner be some other critter's lunch long before other metrics of poverty would apply.

  • ||

    I don't know whether this book still carries any weight with anyone - I was assigned this in Freshman Comp 25+ years ago.

    But I seem to remember a chapter about experiments with overpopulating rat colonies and finding some of the behaviors you describe - alienated groups who got less of a share of total resources (which were also fought over more, even where there was enough to go around), who stayed up off hours when others were sleeping, who didn't groom themselves as well, etc.

    That's the closes thing I can think of, although it's not necessarily perfectly analogous to "Nature" - it is, after all, literally rats in a cage being provided with food they don't have to gather for themselves and where there population is being artificially inflated. So it's like a miniature model of Communism, really.

  • Hamster of Doom||

    The book looks interesting, thanks for the recommendation. The experiment with the rats does sound similar enough to a state of poverty regardless of resource scarcity. Proxemics - the anthropology of space. Looking forward to seeing what it says.

    ...it is, after all, literally rats in a cage being provided with food they don't have to gather for themselves and where there population is being artificially inflated. So it's like a miniature model of Communism, really.

    I laughed.

  • Shirley Knott||

    Who's starving?
    The "can't/won't act to sustain themselves" is a bit of a stretch beyond that.
    I think the more interesting, and possibly more useful, questions involve how [people as] societies, cultures, structure and organize themselves such that these sorts of behavior are fostered or discouraged.
    Subsistence farmers don't have a 'lower class'.
    Feudal societies base class on power.
    At some point we get, if we're lucky, The Great Enrichment.
    Relatively shortly after that we get 'persons of good intent' trying to help, uplift, "improve", whatever, those they perceive as missing out or deprived or 'victims of bad fortune'. Power is brought to bear to 'support the downtrodden' which leads to a professional class of helpers and a professional class off downtrodden.
    To say nothing of the institutional mal-structures that close so many of the margins for those with minimal drive. The greatly reduced possibilities of piece work, ad hoc labor/service, housing and camping regulations, etc., etc., all put a cliff between subsidized and acceptable (to the acceptors) living and job, house/apt, "normal" life. There's a sharp step function there.
    Looking into what's up with that should be interesting along all kinds of directions.
    From cowboys / hobos / drifters to homeless... in about 100 years.

  • Hamster of Doom||

    Who's starving?
    The "can't/won't act to sustain themselves" is a bit of a stretch beyond that.

    I'm not sure what you mean by this.

    ...the broader ways licensing and permitting laws restrict people's ability to earn a living.

    This is the bit that Scott wrote that reminded me about my questions as to whether poverty was a condition which could be found in other animals. It goes back to a long-term pondering on if poverty is a state we cause, however inadvertently, or if some portion of another species can logically be seen to underperform survival needs - and if so, under what situations will such a condition arise? Is it a Little From Column A, Little From Column B thing? Nomsayin.

  • Jerryskids||

    I would think that "poverty" is a human condition in that in the animal kingdom there are no laws about theft and murder - the only homeless and hungry animals are the sick and the weak. If you're big and strong you just take what you want. Poor people don't necessarily lack survival skills, they just have certain avenues of survival closed off to them. Strong-arm robbery isn't a long-term survival tactic amongst humans. (At least not naked strong-arm robbery - dress it up as government and the victims convince themselves being robbed was their idea all along.)

  • Shirley Knott||

    Yeah, poverty is the baseline.
    The question is not 'what causes poverty?' It's 'what causes wealth?'

  • NoVaNick||

    Well, not really in the monetary sense (as far as I know, humans are the only animal that uses money), but there certainly are animals who don't get to mate as often, and presumably don't get as much food either as stronger, or more attractive members of their species. So I guess you could call that animal poverty.

  • General_Tso||

    We call them IT guys around here

  • Cynical Asshole||

    as far as I know, humans are the only animal that uses money

    I don't have time to google it right now, but I though I read that chimps have been observed to trade pretty rocks or something for other items. Kind of like "money."

  • Hamster of Doom||

    Yeah, something like that. Wolves will drive out a wolf that looks different, and many breeds of cats send any male offspring packing, and that's... close... to what I'm looking for. It doesn't seem quite the same, and maybe there isn't a direct corollary. Maybe it is the same, and I don't understand the animal kingdom well enough to tell. Those are some of the things I hoped some smart person had already deduced, and written down nice and neat-like, so I don't have to take up zoology to satisfy curiosity.

  • Robert||

    I'm pretty sure such distinctions exist among plants too.

  • ||

    Look into hydrozoans

  • Hamster of Doom||

    Doing so now, thank you kindly.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    The current theory for the rise of multicellularism (which, BTW, arose independently dozens of times), is a response to starvation, in which some cells sacrifice themselves so other cells can survive and propagate. The original trigger for this was Snowball Earth, which led to isolated islands of survivability near heat sources, where resources eventually became depleted.

    The best current example of this are cellular slime molds. They live as independent amobea in the soil, until food becomes scarce. Then they start releasing a chemical which causes them to aggregate into a "slug" which crawls to the surface and grows a stalked spore head. During this, some cells sacrifice their ability to propagate their genes so others can.

  • ||

    They live as independent amobea in the soil, until food becomes scarce. Then they start releasing a chemical which causes them to aggregate into a "slug" which crawls to the surface and grows a stalked spore head.

    And people say Aristotle was wrong about how life formed!

  • Hamster of Doom||

    Earth can be downright freaky at times.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Huh? What is your definition of poverty? Insufficient resources? That is the de facto state of nature for most organisms, holmes. Also, see the prevalence of parasitism.

  • Hamster of Doom||

    That's a good question. Hrrmm. I guess I'm seeing poverty as a state where a creature does not/cannot exert effort to gain survival advantages when true scarcity is not an issue, although false scarcity can be.

    For example, we do not have enough housing ergo it's tremendously expensive and can make people poor paying for it, and yet the scarcity of housing does not appear to be a true scarcity of resources. There is knowledge of how to build, adequate materials and space, and yet we have a supply crunch. Parasitism is a fascinating effect, or maybe subset, of this, as the question of who the parasites are in the housing example can illustrate.

    Is this definition enough to go on? I would welcome refinement of terms.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Ah, ok, so you are talking about artificial scarcity? But what does that mean? It could mean an inability to use existing resources, for example. But that is really just regular scarcity, such as rabbits not being able to reach leaves on trees, or bacteria not having the proteins for digesting wood.

    Or perhaps you mean where one organism somehow prevents a second organism from using an existing resources. If the resource is part of the second organism, it's just defense, as when a plant makes poison. What about the second organism blocking the first organism from outside resources? A good example of this migut be allelopathy, such as when walnut releases chemicals into the soil to prevent other plants fron growing.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    I am trying to think of an example analogous to the one you gave, of a housing shortage because of regulation. What about the Canfield ocean? Evolution sort of stalled for about a billion years, because there wasn't enough oxygen in the ocean. The oxygen in the atmosphere reduced pyrite to sulfate, which accumulated in the ocean. Sulfate bacteria thrived and generated hydrogen sulfide, which forced molybdenum out of solution. Mo is the metal in the center of the protein that reduces nitrogen. Without it, the nitrogen cycle cannot proceed. So there was this sort of artificial scarcity. Today, Mo is very common in the ocean, because it can stay dissolved in the presence of oxygen.

  • Hamster of Doom||

    Jesus. Yes. This is exactly what I mean, and you, sir, are fucking brilliant. It didn't occur to me to look at bacteria and plant life, but the walnut example is nearly dead-on. Enforced stunted growth despite a (presumably) adequate level of resources.

    Hot damn! Thanks, Chipper.

  • Hamster of Doom||

    So, wait, if we work in proxemics, it seems to be saying that the walnut will use artificial scarcity to ensure its own space, thereby improving survival odds even when scarcity is not an issue. Now I want to read more about proxemics to see if I'm picking this up correctly.

  • ||

    How about the piping plover? It's a tiny shore bird that scraps a shallow depression in the sand as a "nest", and often uses nesting sites below storm surge levels... even when there's more territory higher up on the beach. Little bastards deserve extinction.

  • Hamster of Doom||

    That is also a really good example.

    Damn. This is what I missed about this place. An hour of chit-chat, and I've already got more leads than I dreamed for something I was beginning to think had never been studied. Y'all rock.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Glad to have you back, my cricetine brother.

  • damikesc||

    I'm not talking famine, I'm talking entire sections of the species who cannot/do not act to sustain themselves.

    Wouldn't pandas qualify?

  • Rossami||

    You're not going to find anything until you have a coherent definition of "poverty".

    The government definition is (I believe, deliberately) obfuscated behind layers of interlocking definitions and calculations but it boils down to a calculated value of goods and services that "society" considers "necessary". Since perceptions of what counts as "necessary" continue rising, it is an unbounded standard.

    To your question, however, "poverty" of whatever definition will only ever be found in nature in social species. If a bear (a non-social animal) does not or can not provide for itself, it quickly starves. Other than during the period where a mother is caring for her cubs, other bears will not provide for it even on a short-term basis. The "poor" bear starves and dies.

    In social species, it is at least theoretically possible to see "poverty" among members who nevertheless survive. Drone honeybees come to mind as an example of a sub-population which cannot sustain themselves and which rely upon the resources of the rest of the hive. But the biological characteristics of the drone/queen/worker relationship make for a very poor comparison to anything remotely like the human condition of "poverty".

  • Hamster of Doom||

    Poverty being an expression of interspecies social capital is an interesting line of thought as well.

  • Agammamon||

    I'm talking entire sections of the species who cannot/do not act to sustain themselves.

    That's not poverty. That's welfare.

    Poverty is being poor. Welfare is sitting on your arse all day because someone else provides your food and shelter. And that's not uniquely human. Its pretty common for animals to take advantage of that whenever it arises.

  • Robert||

    Ask at quora.com

  • Duelles||

    There are many studies that show when populations grow out of proportion to their food source they eat each other or just die off. Now this sounds like famine, but it is really a poverty of predators. Since economics theory can be broadly applied to various activities ( read some Walter Williams) it can apply to animals as well. The human factor is that poverty affects those who recieve aid from others and is a designation by the elite. How many Stone Age tribes in remote regions of our world consider themselves in poverty? None, I would suppose. We support leaving them alone since they can care for themselves and yet . . . Those in the 1st world who could care for themselves (for the bleeding heart diseased, not those who can not care for themselves) but do not, end up in poverty. Just a failure to adapt - much like the Robin whose sloppy nest in a tree over a driveway can not contain its young - squish! Remember fully 10% of our population hasn't the mental capacity for any Army job.

  • crufus||

    At least they didn't send jack booted thugs to beat, taser, and jail him for resisting arrest.

  • NoVaNick||

    Wrong skin color

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Statists gotta state.

  • ||

    Little Brendan got the permits and reopened his stand but instead of 75 cents a cup he began charging $12. Brendan called the same health inspectors that shut him down earlier and complained that the other vendors were illegally undercutting him at $7 a cup. After a week of tense stare downs, shouting matches and price increases only Brendan and one other vendor were left. Customers were refusing to pay $37.99 for a 5 ounce lemonade and complained to the Saratoga County Fair officials. That's when the shooting started.

  • ||

    That's when the shooting subsidies started.

    Except now it's just a cold description of reality, rather than satire.

  • Hamster of Doom||

    There can be only one.

    /Taco Bell won the Restaurant War

  • damikesc||

    In their defense, those vendors spent a lot to get a monopoly on selling there.

    So, government idiocy causing more government idiocy.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    Seven dollars for lemonade? Hell if I'd pay that. I wonder if it occurred to the vendors that maybe they were charging too much?

    And how much business could a kid's lemonade stand really divert, especially since it wasn't on the fairgrounds proper?

  • General_Tso||

    Hey, those were free range, cage free, organic, all natural, sustainably grown, locally sourced, fair trade lemons.

    A goddamned bargain at $7 a glass.

  • CE||

    Hopefully they didn't serve them with straws!

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Scurvy is no fucking joke.

    better to pay the $7.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    They got their lemonade fix outside and were no longer jonesin' for it on the fairgrounds.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Vendors were selling fresh lemonade inside the fair for $7 a cup.

    I'm guessing they probably also weren't allowing outside food or drink. And probably weren't allowing any backpacks or other bags over a certain size. Because "terrorism," not so that they could create a captive audience for the food and drink vendors. Oh no, not that. Never.

  • Longtobefree||

    Really? The fair vendors were not trying to stifle competition. They were selling healthy natural lemonade with real processed to hell and gone sugar, and the kid was selling nasty prepackaged stuff. Not the same product at all.
    I am sure the fair guys had the health of the citizens at heart.
    Everyone knows that a nice clean state fair is a better place for making lemonade than some sterile factory in who knows where. The unreported fact is was the prepackaged mix Countrytime, and did they come to bail the kid out?

  • Longtobefree||

    Even if it is a county fair. Rant fingers got ahead of rant brain - - - - - -

  • loveconstitution1789||

    The government didnt get a cut of the $7 which is the real problem here.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (facing re-election in November) offered to pay the kid's permit fees.

    Precedent!

  • CE||

    At least it won't cost him 3,000 dollars to bring his lemonade stand up to code, like in California.

  • Jerryskids||

    Politicians are now falling all over themselves to get publicity for supporting the boy. Republican state Senator James Tedisco showed up at the kid's stand after it made the news and complained, "These kids are trying to give people sweet lemonade and learn some important business skills but the overzealous state bureaucrats in the administration just keep giving taxpayers lemons." Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (facing re-election in November) offered to pay the kid's permit fees.

    And what did the kiddies learn about important business skills? That's right, boys and girls, that as long as you've got powerful political friends the rules don't apply to you. So don't worry how ridiculous, draconian and expensive the rules are, they're only going to be used to crush your enemies, not you. When you're a little older you may come across the quote "When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first thing to be bought and sold are legislators" and you'll remember this lesson.

  • Freddy the Jerk||

    My kids sell baked goods, lemonade and ice cream bars in front of our house, just steps from the local fair and its town-sanctioned $7 lemonade. Aside from the bucks they make selling to smart adults who know their kids will be thirsty/hungry as soon as they see the food stands, there's the added bonus of sticking it to The Man.

  • Rich||

    Politicians are now falling all over themselves to get publicity for supporting the boy.

    And when several people pick up salmonella from the boy, hilarity ensues.

  • colorblindkid||

    Another issue that has been happening all the time for years (as Reason readers are well aware), but the media finds a few examples of it happening to black kids, makes it ENTIRELY about race, blames it all on racism instead of the dumb regulations and laws, and then moves on to the next issue they can racialize without actually helping fix anything.

    Fuck the media.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    , "These kids are trying to give people sweet lemonade and learn some important business skills

    They are learning important business skills.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (facing re-election in November) offered to pay the kid's permit fees.

    Did he offer to help the kid comply with the rules, too?

  • Rock Lobster||

    New York. It figures.

  • Duelles||

    Shows what a twit brained dodo Andy Cuomo is. Offering to pay his license fee and not reform the laws. Every kid in the state should petition the Governor's office for a lemonade stand license fee subsidy out of Andy's big fat generous wallet.

  • Walk_on_Walter||

    If only the kid were black so we could crucify these liberals for shutting him down like San Fran black kid who had the cops called on her by another liberal enforcing liberal laws.

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