In “There is no ‘free’ lemonade: In giving drink away, girls ignore rules of economics — and sum up what’s wrong with U.S.“, writer Terry Savage takes to task three young girls (plus nanny) for setting up a lemonade stand and then giving away–not selling–their wares. I must admit, I’m torn by the two views of the world, the two mindsets, this conflict represents.
When informed that the offerings are free, Savage protests:
“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.”
First…Savage is making an assumption as to the provider of the stand produce. For the sake of argument, let’s say he’s correct. He then proceeds to talk about the point of a lemonade stand is to (I’m paraphrasing) create a business model so that the young might learn that income can pay for materials and then–hopefully–result in profit. It’s the American way, damn it!
The girls persist on the “Free” price tag, which seems to incense Mr. Savage more. He likens this to people expecting the government to give them handouts without having to endure (or acknowledge) their own costs for the dole. That this free lemonade stand is evidence of why Congress can’t seem to grasp the basic concept of economics.
And he does have a point. The U.S. has a decided deficit when it comes to understanding basic economics (shoot…basic math). Unfortunately, he’s sort of mixing apples and lemons here. Congress does fully grasp economics. These millionaire-club members simply don’t care so long as the playing board tilts in their direction.
Where Mr. Savage falters is in seeing only a monetization-for-profit model. It’s true that these girls have totally failed to grasp the concepts necessary for them to gain their future MBAs. Then again, perhaps they are exploring the larger expanse of economics (that they might simply be doing this because they thought it looked like fun is completely out of the question, apparently).
The GOP and the tea-bag-partiers are very fond of invoking the spirit of Regan. Ronald Regan was arguably the worst economics president ever, but that’s a topic for another post. Even so, the concept of “trickle-down” economics was extolled in his administration. The stated concept was that those of means would share their good fortune with those on lower rungs of the economic ladder (that the actual result was the rich punking everyone else so they could get richer is, again, the subject for another post). Since these girls apparently have the means, it could be argued that their lemon fortunes are trickling down to the rest.
I’ll admit, that’s a reach. But, it does bring to mind the idea of philanthropy. Think of all the free lemonade the myriad foundations have handed out. Sure, a hunk of this is because of the tax benefits, but much of it is also due to a genuine sense that helping by giving, when you have it to give, isn’t a bad thing. Giving a thirsty man a glass of lemonade isn’t a sin…though unnecessarily forcing him to pay for it simply because you feel you must profit yourself just might be.
In any case, Mr. Savage needs to lighten up a bit with the vitriol against these citrus drink mavens. It could be that they have a better grasp on the world of economics than he does. Maybe not. After all, establishing a product and location, and give stuff away, has a long history. I do find it ironic that when so many young lemonade sellers are disappointed when they fall far short of recouping their costs, Mr. Savage made three girls pay a price for offering drinks to the thirsty for free. It makes you proud.