By Francisco Gonzalez, JMI Development Director
We are coming into the home stretch of summer. It’s been a hot one. A few weeks ago in Multnomah County, Oregon, a seven-year-old named Julie Murphy, took advantage of the summer heat. She set up a lemonade stand at a local art fair to provide some refreshments to passers by and in the process make a few bucks for herself.
Unfortunately, little Julie was told by county officials she would have to shut down her lemonade stand or face a $500 fine. Her crime? She did not get the required $120 temporary restaurant license required to open such a stand. While Julie ended up in tears as her enterprise was shut down by government officials, this is not an uncommon story for entrepreneurs trying to start a business and create jobs.
With all the requirements placed on entrepreneurs and small business owners, it is not surprising that they are the ones being hurt most during this economic recession. On top of permits and taxes, soon the federal government’s health care law will go into effect nationally, forcing employers to require providing health insurance to their employees. If you think the economy is bad now, just wait. Those employers will face fines (or imprisonment) if they do not provide proper health insurance for their employees. Many will have to resort to layoffs. Some may have to shut down altogether.
When Julie Murphy’s story grabbed the attention of the local media in Multnomah County, Oregon, county officials realized their folly and they reinstated Julie’s right to serve a simple glass of lemonade. Unfortunately, the message this kind of government meddling sends to potential entrepreneurs, and especially young people, is harmful to their desire to start a business – which itself is quite a venture, even without government getting in the way.
In this economy, there are countless of similar stories that the local, statewide, and national news media could cover – especially as “Obamacare” goes into effect and imposes countless new regulations on employers. The little respect government officials in Oregon gave to Julie’s lemonade stand is just a microcosm of the larger problem of government interference into business and private property.