I've rarely seen a point missed by a wider margin. "The main risk of a tougher approach to children running food stands... is that children will lose out on the entrepreneurial experience ..." Uh, No. The main risk is that regulators are overstepping their bounds and transgressing not only common sense but common decency. They are becoming a greater danger to the welfare of the general citizenry than the public health threats they were organized to prevent.
The main risk of a tougher approach to children running food stands — and especially demanding that kids comply with costly licensing and strict city zoning laws — is that children will lose out on the entrepreneurial experience of running their first business, serving customers, and making money. If we want to have an entrepreneurial culture, where people innovate and take risks to build businesses, there has to be a certain amount of freedom and space for the young to learn these skills.
While navigating bureaucracy is definitely a useful entrepreneurial skill, expecting kids or their parents to fork out hundreds of dollars for a license to run their first business is punitive and anti-entrepreneurial. And every hour and dollar spent on inspecting or shutting down children's lemonade stands on technicalities is an hour and dollar not spent on inspecting food safety in actual restaurants, food processing facilities, and stores — places where a lapse in food safety could expose hundreds or thousands of people to illness.
And while city zoning laws are useful for keeping heavy industry away from homes, selling lemonade or girl scout cookies is really a residential activity. Many of the world's most famous businesses — Amazon, Apple, Disney, Google, Hewlett Packard — were started in garages. An entrepreneurial culture requires the freedom to start a business at home. If we stop businesses and businesspeople from developing, we lose the benefits that come down the road, like job creation and innovation (not that little Suzie's lemonade stand will likely grow to rival Tropicana, but you get the point...).
The sooner cities and counties realize this, and stop wasting resources going after the entrepreneurs of tomorrow, the better.
Really? Is this what we expect in a civilized and supposedly free society?
No. We expect if the cops come by they will play along and buy a lemonade from the little kid's play store. We expect a grown man or woman with a position in the city government to behave themselves in a manner respectful of the basic freedom of the people who's taxes pay their damn salary. We expect them to be able to make a distinction between a kid selling lemonade and some kind of ad-hock business improperly situated in a residential area. By volume, if nothing else.