This Column Sums Up What’s Wrong With America
There are enough outrages to write about to keep a writer busy for life, no matter his or her age. This is the outrage that Terry Savage, who apparently writes a column for the Chicago Sun-Times, chose to fill her valuable newspaper real estate:
This column is a true story — every word of it. And I think it very appropriate to consider around the Fourth of July, Independence Day spirit.
Last week, I was in a car with my brother and his fiancee, driving through their upscale neighborhood on a hot summer day. At the corner, we all noticed three little girls sitting at a homemade lemonade stand.
We follow the same rules in our family, and one of them is: Always stop to buy lemonade from kids who are entrepreneurial enough to open up a little business.
My brother immediately pulled over to the side of the road and asked about the choices.
The three young girls — under the watchful eye of a nanny, sitting on the grass with them — explained that they had regular lemonade, raspberry lemonade, and small chocolate candy bars.
Then my brother asked how much each item cost.
“Oh, no,” they replied in unison, “they’re all free!”
I sat in the back seat in shock. Free? My brother questioned them again: “But you have to charge something? What should I pay for a lemonade? I’m really thirsty!”
His fiancee smiled and commented, “Isn’t that cute. They have the spirit of giving.”
That really set me off, as my regular readers can imagine.
“No!” I exclaimed from the back seat. “That’s not the spirit of giving. You can only really give when you give something you own. They’re giving away their parents’ things — the lemonade, cups, candy. It’s not theirs to give.”
I pushed the button to roll down the window and stuck my head out to set them straight.
“You must charge something for the lemonade,” I explained. “That’s the whole point of a lemonade stand. You figure out your costs — how much the lemonade costs, and the cups — and then you charge a little more than what it costs you, so you can make money. Then you can buy more stuff, and make more lemonade, and sell it and make more money.”
I was confident I had explained it clearly. Until my brother, breaking the tension, ordered a raspberry lemonade. As they handed it to him, he again asked: “So how much is it?”
And the girls once again replied: “It’s free!” And the nanny looked on contentedly.
No wonder America is getting it all wrong when it comes to government, and taxes, and policy. We all act as if the “lemonade” or benefits we’re “giving away” is free.
Here is another way to look at this. Savage (apt name, by the way) says that the neighborhood was “upscale,” and underscored the point by referring to the girls’ “nanny.” Perhaps these girls’ parents have instilled in them the value of giving back to the community, and have actually encouraged them to do things like giving out free lemonade on hot summer days. Maybe they even bought the cups and lemonade for that very purpose. Or maybe the free lemonade was part of a church service project — you know, to teach the girls the biblical message of providing drink for the thirsty and food for the hungry and loving your neighbor as yourself.
Values that clearly are so much less important than capitalism and entrepreneurship.