The War on Childhood Part One: Cupcakes and Lemonade Stands
One of the first rites of passage into the American kitchen for generations of children has been baking cupcakes. With minimal preparation and few ingredients, cupcakes have been the traditional low-risk introduction to the art of cooking for millions of kids. But just as Progressives have attacked all American traditions, leftist food control freaks decades ago identified rich, comforting desserts as a threat to humankind, and set out on a quest to shame cupcakes, brownies, cookies and all things baked.
First came the demonization in the 1970’s of salt, in the 1980’s of sugar, and in the 1990’s of butter and oil; all essential ingredients in baking. But Americans have a passion for home-baked comfort foods, and as we pushed back against the Progressive war on yummy things, their attacks became more direct. In early 2010, Michelle Obama spearheaded the effort to ban the lot; salt, sugar, butter, oil, and all things that appeal to the child and optimist in all of us, by first kicking sweets out of public school cafeterias, then bake sales off school grounds.
It’s hard to fathom, but true nevertheless, that American moms and kids have been shamed by the First Lady of the United States for making money for good causes by selling treats at bake sales. Though the directive to suspend the selling of homemade confections on public school campuses comes from the USDA, Michelle Obama is the mouthpiece of the anti-cupcake movement in America. Don’t be deceived, however, Michelle Obama and her progressive comrades are not fighting the “evils” of salt, fat and sugar. The progressive war against bake sales is really an assault on Americans’ instinct to support one another through charitable acts, generosity, creativity, and voluntary exchange; an instinct which minimizes the importance of government in our lives.
Putting up a lemonade stand in the summer was the first taste of Free Market Capitalism for kids of my generation. Consisting of a card table, a folding chair, a plastic gingham table cover, a cardboard sign, paper cups and a couple pitchers of homemade lemonade, our little stands were a test of the entrepreneurial spirit. We planned, built, stocked, advertised, and ran our lemonade stands with little or no help from Mom or Dad. We had to endure the heat, maintain the quality of the product, and work long hours for a small profit margin, often taking our marketing campaign on the road in the Radio Flyer wagon and walking around the neighborhood soliciting business.
The traditional lemonade stand is a tidy microcosm of the American free market economy; the risks, the toil, the failures, the rewards, and we all benefited from the effort. Sometimes we sold braided plastic keychains, candy, Spudnuts, or pet rocks, but there were no regulations and no Progressive control freaks to stop us.
Stories now abound about neighborhood lemonade stands, bake sales, and other entrepreneurial ventures shut down by local law-enforcement, HOA’s, city councils and health departments. As government, the great meddler, grows, it loses touch with the genius of the citizen, and inane regulations created by obscure bureaucrats force good parents and industrious kids to cease and desist their experiments in Capitalism and thus abandon their dreams of owning a summer business.
More than the acts of bumbling bureaucrats out of touch with the Middle Class, policies prohibiting innocent and sociable activities like bake sales and lemonade stands seem sinister, almost conspiratorial. Instead of rewarding the application of thought, resources, and time in the creation and marketing of a product, government entities punish families for using their private property as they see fit. Instead of savoring the rewards of showing off personal cooking acumen with yummy creations at a bake sale, children are shamed for the innocent pleasure of selling something delicious to benefit something important. Instead of learning about voluntary exchange in a free market, children are made ashamed of their dreams of creating and selling something at a profit. The bigger the government, the smaller the individual. The more government micromanages every aspect of existence, the less control the citizen has over his own life. The more rules and regulations imposed on personal activities, the less incentive the individual has to create, succeed, or take the risks required to do either.
It’s not by accident that Progressives want to extinguish the entrepreneurial instinct at an early age. The progressive Left can never win the war against the well-developed creative impulse, the fiery spirit of success . This is why government is waging a war on childhood.
Next in the series: Hypersexualization
by Marjorie Haun 8/9/14