Businesses Step In To Fill Gaps


A generous helping of Domino’s pizza washed down with a couple glasses of Country Time lemonade won’t do wonders for your waistline, but it’s an excellent diet for promoting liberty and tweaking busybody bureaucrats.

Country Time, a popular brand of powdered lemonade mix manufactured by Kraft Foods, is stepping in to pay fines levied against children who sell the sweetened beverage, and Domino’s is paving potholes in 20 U.S. cities, quite literally filling the gaps left by local governments.

Every spring and summer, police, zoning officials and health inspectors with nothing better to do manage to shut down a few lemonade stands and scare the dickens out of entrepreneurial-minded children. While it happens across the country, it’s still rare enough to make the news — the latest egregious example occurred late last month in Denver, Colorado.

Jennifer Knowles’ three sons, ages 6,4 and 2, were selling lemonade in a park to raise money for charity, according to media reports. Police showed up to chase the mom and kids off because city rules require a temporary food vendor permit.

In other much-publicized cases, kids and young teenagers have been slapped with stiff fines for failing to procure business licenses or permits or for neglecting to schedule health inspections. That’s where Country Time’s Legal-Ade program comes in.

The brand launched a Twitter campaign, pledging to set aside up to $500,000 to cover the costs of kids’ lemonade stand fines and pay for required permits. Country Time will pay up to $300 per child for young entrepreneurs 14 and under, even if they’re selling a competitor’s product or serving fresh-squeezed lemonade.

Sure, it’s a publicity stunt that’s generated more goodwill and glowing media coverage than the half-million-dollar Legal-Ade fund could buy in equivalent advertising, but Country Time has common sense on its side.

It ought to go without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: Neighborhood lemonade stands should not be regulated like grown-up businesses.

Thanks to Country Time’s Legal-Ade program, kids will learn that sometimes you can fight city hall.

Domino’s, meanwhile, says it will offer paving grants to 20 cities whose roads are pockmarked with potholes. It’s a symbolic nod to carryout customers, and the public relations pitch is that smooth roads are essential to “getting the pizza home in perfect condition.”

The free service is a boon to cities and towns with rough roads, and many municipalities are gladly applying for the private grants. Domino’s promotion does, however, underscore the failure of local, state and federal transportation agencies to maintain the roads our income, vehicle registration and gasoline taxes are ostensibly funding.

Country Time is sowing the seeds of economic liberty and spreading disdain for brainless bureaucracy. Domino’s is sharing a message of self-reliance and reminding folks that free people can work together voluntarily to improve public spaces without anyone’s taxes getting hiked.

Neither company will lay claim to a libertarian political philosophy or even a healthy distrust for big government, but the implication of these shrewd marketing moves is tough to deny.

Lemonade and pizza are starting to taste a lot like freedom. We could all use a second serving.


No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment