I said, no fun allowed!
And you thought the Nanny State’s “war on child entrepreneurs” was over, after the Great Lemonade Stand War of 2010-11. I’m sorry to say, my friends, that the enemy, enterprising children who want to earn a little money, has opened a new front, threatening us all with the horror of unregulated micro-businesses.
Thank God, however, that the Madison County, Illinois, Health Department is there to protect us from the danger of unlicensed cupcakes:
After-school jobs are tougher to keep, apparently, than they used to be.
On Sunday, a Belleville News-Democrat story featured 11-year-old Chloe Stirling of Troy, Ill., a sixth-grader at Triad Middle School who makes about $200 a month selling cupcakes.
According to a report I watched on Megyn Kelly’s show last night, her parents, seeing Chloe was both serious at her new hobby and good at it, made her an offer: if she saves the money she earns through selling cupcakes, they will match it when she’s 16 and help her buy a car. Great idea, right? Chloe learns some skills and responsibility, how to set and meet goals, and, who knows, maybe she goes on to open her own bakery and creates jobs for other people. “Women’s empowerment,” know what I’m saying?
Winning situation all-around, right?
Well, Nanny State is right there to put an end to this nonsense!
“[The county] called and said they were shutting us down,” Heather Stirling, Chloe’s mother, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Officials told Stirling Chloe could continue selling cupcakes on the condition that the family “buy a bakery or build her a kitchen separate from the one we have.”
“Obviously, we can’t do that,” Heather Stirling told reporters. “We’ve already given her a little refrigerator to keep her things in, and her grandparents bought her a stand mixer.”
The elder Stirling said that she was willing to get her daughter any necessary licenses or permits to operate a business, but could not meet the health department’s other demands.
“But a separate kitchen? Who can do that?” asked an astonished Stirling.
When asked why they were curb-stomping an 11-year old’s business, martinets for Madison county started channeling Judge Dredd:
Health department spokeswoman Amy Yeager said they had no choice but to ask Chloe to close Hey Cupcake.
‘The rules are the rules. It’s for the protection of the public health. The guidelines apply to everyone,’ she said.
Sharon Valentine, environmental health manager at St Clair County (1) Health Department, added: ‘If we let one person do it, how can we tell the person with 30 cats in their home that they can’t do it? A line has to be drawn.’
The local health department had been tipped off to Chloe’s baking business after she appeared on the front page of Belleville News Democrat at the weekend.
Somehow –and you can call me “naive”– but I think the “crazy cat lady” scenario is a bit different than a grade-schooler in her parents’ kitchen.
Now, lest I sound like a foaming at the mouth anarcho-capitalist, I’m not averse to regulating food businesses for public health. Restaurants, commercial bakeries, butcher shops and so forth, sure. There is a legit public health interest.
Still, let’s be reasonable here. This is the equivalent of making little Julie Murphy cry in the name of enforcing regulations really meant for adults and real businesses. Asking the parents to buy an inexpensive license, which they were willing to do, and maybe submit the kitchen to a health inspection should be enough.
But “buy a bakery or build a separate kitchen??” That smacks of a petty bureaucrat being bored and needing some enforcement actions to show for the annual review.
And maybe a little bit of cartelism, too. Reason has written several good articles about how occupational licenses are used to limit competition.
Such as from little girls who are saving for their first car.
(1) Not sure why the Mail reporter called St. Clair county, which is next door to Madison county. I guess from a UK point of view, all those American counties look alike.
(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)