In Midway, Georgia, local police have stopped a crime cold. No, they didn’t thwart a jewel heist in progress. They didn’t stop a murder. The instance I’m talking about doesn’t even catching the guy who knocked over a convenience store. No, they stopped some really hardened criminals. They got a couple of kids with a lemonade stand.
Three Midway girls wanted to pay for a trip to a water park. They needed money, so the set about making it. They were going to make it the old fashioned way. They wanted to earn it. However, they didn’t get a business license, a peddler’s permit, or a food permit. That is a $50 per day cost, or $180 per year according to Fox-5 in Atlanta that reported this vigilance of local police officers.
This isn’t particularly unusual either. This has happened, and for similar reasons, all over the country. Lemonade stands, which once were a great way to teach kids how to actually make money for themselves, now serve as a harsh lesson in governmental control. No business is allowed to start up without the government extracting it’s pound of flesh first.
Make no mistake, the Midway Police are part of the problem as well. In most communities, police do act with enough discretion to recognize a couple of kids with a lemonade stand and let it go. Few people honestly expect a kid’s lemonade stand to have been inspected by the health department or any such thing. They purchase it because they want to help out a couple of kids who aren’t asking for a handout, but hoping to make an honest buck. Most local cops see it, maybe smile to themselves, and move on…if they don’t buy a glass of lemonade themselves.
It has been said that ignorance of the law is no defense. If you break the law, you can be prosecuted even if you didn’t know what you did was illegal. The concept itself makes sense. After all, how are you supposed to prosecute people if the first thing they say is “I didn’t know it was illegal” and walk away free and clear, only to break another law? However, there’s a problem with this line of thinking.
Between federal, state, and local governments, there are hundreds of thousands of laws governing our behavior at any given moment. Some, like murder, are universal wrongs that no one thinks should be legal. Others are well publicized but relatively minor, like seat belt laws. Others are more obscure.
In Oklahoma, you can be jailed for making ugly faces at your dog. In Compton, California, it’s against the law to dance cheek to cheek. In Florida, you can be fined for falling asleep under a hair drier. That’s some pretty stupid stuff, but Oklahoma? Florida? Obviously, California? They’re a little off in most of those places, right?
Not so fast. For example, it’s illegal to use profanity in front of a corps here in the Peach State. We’re also not allowed to carry an ice cream cone in our back pockets on Sunday. If you slap a man on the back, you’re a criminal. See? We’re not immune to some of this.