[Hpn] Something for FNB folks (Humor?)

Thomas Cagle nh-adapt@juno.com
Sat, 03 Jun 2000 07:11:18 -0400


Something for FNB folks.

Tom C

Squeeze out the lemonade vendors
by Thomas M. Keane Jr. 
Weekly Columnist for Boston Herald

Posted with permission from Tom Keane
Friday, June 2, 2000

Memorial Day weekend was bright and beautiful, so I had my kid arrested. 
They
had set up a lemonade stand.

The girls, Lauren, 10, and Bryn, 8, had taken a beat-up red wagon over to
a
nearby playground and were charging customers 25 cents a cup. I asked to
see
their license from the health department. Needless to say, they couldn't
produce it.

"How about your common victualler's license? Let's see your business
registration certificate? Did you take the state-required food-handling
course?''  They gave me blank stares.  The City Council just passed a
requirement that all food vendors had to wear plastic gloves. Were they
wearing plastic gloves?  No.

As I contemplated the lemonade stand, the gravity of the situation grew
on me.
 The playground clearly was not zoned for a commercial enterprise.  Nor
had
they obtained a one-day license from the licensing board that could
temporarily exempt them from the rules.

The Inspectional Services Department had never signed off on the stand.
Indeed, the kids had never even applied for a construction permit.
Moreover,
the fire department had never inspected the wagon for fire safety. I'm
pretty
sure it didn't have a working fire extinguisher.

The lemonade mix they had bought from Stop & Shop was clearly labeled,
"Not
for resale.'' They had mixed it with water in our kitchen. That's illegal
as
well.  They asked their friend Mila to help them. They never paid her
minimum
wage, they failed to post the federally mandated fair-labor-law notices
and,
of course, they were illegally hiring a minor on a holiday, to boot.

I watched them sell a glass of lemonade. But they never bothered to
collect
any sales tax. Their hand-lettered sign was larger than the rules for
``home-based businesses'' allow. To top it off, they were operating in an
historic district. I doubt the garish red wagon would have passed
architectural muster.  I could go on, but you see my point. This was the
kind
of behavior that we cannot tolerate. The kids had to be dealt with
harshly.

I wish I could report to you that egregious violations such as these are
isolated occurrences, but I cannot. They happen all the time,
particularly in
Boston's least well-off neighborhoods. For example, women bake cookies
and
pies to sell on street corners or at farmers' markets, trying to make a
few
dollars for their families. What they are doing is a crime. For one
thing,
it's illegal to sell food prepared in your own kitchen. If you want to be
a
caterer, you have to prepare the food in a separate, commercial kitchen
that
has been inspected by the health department.

Or how about hair braiding? Hair braiding is a traditional African art
form
currently popular in Boston's black community. It's a skill handed down
from
generation to generation. But most hair braiders are operating illegally.
The
law says that all hair stylists must get a license from the state and
must
have gone to a hair styling school (average tuition, $8,000) for a
minimum of
1,000 hours. As it turns out, most hair-styling schools teach things like
hair
cutting and coloring, not hair braiding.

So what? The law is the law. Then there are the guys who hang around
grocery
stores, giving shoppers rides back home. They are blatantly violating the
city's taxi laws. If you want to give someone a ride, you need a taxi
medallion, currently available for about $166,000.  Now, it is true that
taxis
are never to be found in residential areas and that without the illegal
cars,
residents, particularly elderly residents, would have a tough time doing
their
shopping.

But so what? The law is the law.  Some people argue the laws should be
changed. The Pioneer Institute's recently launched Center for Urban
Entrepreneurship claims that government's welter of laws and regulations
discourage urban entrepreneurship. It says the rules are foolish,
needlessly
complex and often times amount to little more than barriers to new
competitors.  Indeed, the center argues, if society really cares about
eliminating poverty, it should do all it can to encourage those on the
lowest
rungs of the economic ladder to be entrepreneurs, that this is the key
way to
build economic independence and create vibrant, self-sustaining
communities.

Bah.  If they want a job, let them work at McDonald's.  And as for my
kids?
Once they get out of jail, I plan to give them a good talking to. These
laws
were put in place for a good reason.  Next time they try to show some
initiative, I'll tell the judge to throw away the key.

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