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Damn That Lemonade Stand!
July 7, 2010 7:19 AM   Subscribe

"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 [...] 'They're giving away their parents' things [...] 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.'"
posted by WCityMike (124 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Never trust anyone who's job it is to have an opinion.
posted by The Whelk at 7:22 AM on July 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


SLBOE
posted by empath at 7:22 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I must get round to paying Terry for reading such an informative article.
posted by robself at 7:22 AM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


If that's a true story, I will eat my hat.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:22 AM on July 7, 2010 [11 favorites]


Don't tell Terry Savage about Burning Man.
posted by mullingitover at 7:23 AM on July 7, 2010 [8 favorites]




Why is Nick Hornby's "How To Be Good" flashing in my head?

Kate, a doctor, wife and mother, is in the midst of a difficult decision: whether to leave or stay with her bitter, sarcastic husband David (who proudly writes a local newspaper column called "The Angriest Man in Holloway"). The long-term marriage has gone stale, but is it worth uprooting the children and the comfortable lifestyle? Then David meets a faith healer called Dr. Goodnews, and suddenly converts to an idealistic do-gooder: donating the children's computer to an orphanage, giving away the family's Sunday dinner to homeless people and inviting runaways to stay in the guest room (and convincing the neighbors to do likewise).

With writing like this, how can newspapers possibly be in trouble?
posted by The Whelk at 7:24 AM on July 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


Ha, Ha! Tell 'em, Savage! Children are stupid!
posted by etc. at 7:24 AM on July 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


I refuse to believe this actually happened.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:25 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I had no idea Ayn Rand was still alive, and admonishing children. The things I learn on MeFi, I'll tell ya...
posted by dbiedny at 7:25 AM on July 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


I think this column is everything that is wrong with the US, not the children handing out free lemonade.
posted by Happy Dave at 7:26 AM on July 7, 2010 [37 favorites]


The columnist's website.
posted by thewittyname at 7:26 AM on July 7, 2010


Christ, what an asshole.
posted by grouse at 7:29 AM on July 7, 2010 [22 favorites]


I had no idea Ayn Rand was still alive
She is!
posted by Threeway Handshake at 7:29 AM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


I have no doubt that it happened. And no doubt that it never occurred to him that the children were acting as the agent of their parents who decided that it was acceptable for lemonade to be shared for free. The parents worked hard to be able to afford lemonade powder and would like to share the benefits of their hard work with others as it should be.
posted by amethysts at 7:29 AM on July 7, 2010 [9 favorites]


And how does he know that the kids didn't sell the lemonade last week, the week before, the week before that, and the week before that, and with the profits from those ventures, decided to give away lemonade to build good will from their customer base?

The columnist is an asshat. I just put him on my ass. Now my ass has a hat.
posted by millipede at 7:30 AM on July 7, 2010 [24 favorites]


My g*d tell me it's satire. Please. Why is it that person's fucking problem if someone feels like giving something away?

The only good that can come from this sort of confrontation is that the kids realize "wow, that person's really unhappy -- I don't think I'll subscribe to their newsl ideas."

Also, who doesn't love a shouting public scold, right?
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:31 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


This column is a true story -- every word of it.

I assume Terry Savage moonlights writing articles which begin "I never thought it would happen to me..."

If we can't teach our kids the basics of running a lemonade stand, how can we ever teach Congress the basics of economics?

Fifty years ago, this guy's father stumbled onto him building a soapbox racer and vocally opined as to how we'll ever beat the Soviets to the moon if we can't teach our kids the basics of axle balancing and aerodynamics. Then he walked away, mumbling to himself about about the demmycrats and leaving young Terry Savage a bitter, bitter child with a bizarre and broken delusion of the concept of self-sufficiency.
posted by griphus at 7:32 AM on July 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


These kids are just ahead of the curve. Doesn't this guy know anything about the freemium model?
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:32 AM on July 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'm sure the free lemonade is just a promotion. Don't worry, they've got a roadmap to monetize the stand. Anyway, I hear the girls are only in it to sell off their interest in the stand in a couple years and are going to go to start a free lawn mowing business.
posted by demiurge at 7:33 AM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


I can understand his problem with it, as it appears he's seeing the lemonade stand as a classic exercise to teach kids the very basic principles of running a business.

But there are other thing that can be learned from the same lemonade stand.

If the kids are having an exercise in organizing and helping random people, even if the goal is just to ask "Are you thirsty? Have some lemonade," then they are learning a different lesson, just as important.

It's important to learn both lessons equally well.
posted by chambers at 7:34 AM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


I had no idea Ayn Rand was still alive

She's not - but Ed Anger is, and he's PIG-BITING MAD about the bleeding lefty sentiment that's warped kids' understanding of true capitalism!
posted by Smart Dalek at 7:36 AM on July 7, 2010 [10 favorites]


For the record, Terry Savage is not a dude.
posted by Comrade_robot at 7:36 AM on July 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


HER. Terry Savage is female.
posted by sciurus at 7:36 AM on July 7, 2010


Someone needs a valium crushed up & put in her lemonade.
posted by pointystick at 7:36 AM on July 7, 2010


Why are you giving this horseshit more page views by posting it here?
posted by The Straightener at 7:36 AM on July 7, 2010 [19 favorites]


So I should start charging for the time that I spend volunteering for church or the neighborhood group? I used to feel good about doing it for free but I didn't realize that I was hurting the country by giving away my time.
posted by octothorpe at 7:38 AM on July 7, 2010


What an ass.
posted by sneakyalien at 7:38 AM on July 7, 2010


This proves once again that the only person surnamed Savage worth listening to is the one that writes a sex advice column.
posted by caution live frogs at 7:38 AM on July 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


If this story is indeed true, she might have overlooked something.
posted by davebush at 7:39 AM on July 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


My g*d tell me it's satire.
yeah, I think it's satire
posted by bitteroldman at 7:39 AM on July 7, 2010


This is far too easy.

We need a second link proving the columnist did something wonderful, generous and kind for his community, so we can alternate between accusations of hypocrisy and feelings of guilt.
posted by CynicalKnight at 7:40 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


For the record, Terry Savage is not a dude.

Huh! My mistake. My mind's eye went directly to "Old Man Yells At Cloud" three sentences into the article.
posted by griphus at 7:41 AM on July 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


I saw a child reading Dr. Seuss the other day and decided that was somehow endemic of everything wrong with America. I saw a child playing hopscotch and decided this was somehow a parallel for everything I think is wrong with the government. I saw a child singing a song and decided that this was the Obama administration. I saw a child eating a lollypop and knew that I must kill him, for he was Hitler.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:42 AM on July 7, 2010 [19 favorites]


This proves once again that the only person surnamed Savage worth listening to is the one that writes a sex advice column.

Dude, you're forgetting MeFi's own MythBuster
posted by briank at 7:42 AM on July 7, 2010 [12 favorites]


Let me tell you all a true story about the time I ripped off some kids running a lemonade stand. I'd just returned from a jog on a warm summer day and there were some kids across the street selling glasses for a quarter or fifty cents. I told them I was really thirsty and asked if I could have a couple of glasses, then run over to the house and get my money. They said yes, so I quaffed a couple of cups and went over to the house. Gentle readers, you must take me at my word that I fully intended to pay those kids in full, but once I got inside the phone rang or something else distracted me and I just forgot all about it...until about five hours later when I sat bolt-upright in bed and was consumed with guilt at having forgotten to pay them. What must they have thought of me?

On the other hand, I taught those kids a valuable lesson: "IN GOD WE TRUST, ALL OTHERS PAY CASH."
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:43 AM on July 7, 2010 [7 favorites]


A true entrepeneur would take all the free lemonade she could carry and start her own for-profit stand down the street, hangining up signs that say "OUR lemonade is arsenic free!"
posted by monkeymadness at 7:44 AM on July 7, 2010 [15 favorites]


Indeed; the important lesson that Terry Savage has learned here is that picking on kids in order to get attention works.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:44 AM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm sure the free lemonade is just a promotion. Don't worry, they've got a roadmap to monetize the stand.

Cell phone unlocking: $40.00
(plan includes 2 drink refills)
posted by Smart Dalek at 7:45 AM on July 7, 2010


Why do I get the feeling that Terry Savage would also feel wistfully nostalgic about the days when a person would grow too many tomatoes in his or her backyard garden and then hand out the extras for free to the neighbors?

For many, altruism applies only for those people in their own comfortable corner of the world. But if there's a chance altruism might benefit someone who doesn't deserve it? Or might benefit the Other? Whoa, nelly.
posted by Chanther at 7:47 AM on July 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


This proves once again that the only person surnamed Savage worth listening to is the one that writes a sex advice column.

Used to be good. Now just meh.
And, yeah, don't forget our own Adam. I'm sure he's lurking having seen his surname in the headline and trying to remember whether or not he actually yelled at those kids.
posted by monkeymadness at 7:48 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would very much like to hear what she thinks of Christmas.
posted by harujion at 7:52 AM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


..and then the children learned the true lesson of capitalism: It is a harsh ideology that demands compliance from all subjects at all times. Not even the play of children is free from its grasp. It is kill or be killed, all day, all the time, or else.

And the children learned this, and it was good. ALL HAIL THE MARKET!
posted by vibrotronica at 7:53 AM on July 7, 2010 [9 favorites]


caution live frogs: This proves once again that the only person surnamed Savage worth listening to is the one that writes a sex advice column.

Eh, besides the aforementioned Adam, Fred and Randy aren't that bad, either, and Vandal's good for a melodramatic turn of phrase.
posted by WCityMike at 7:53 AM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


This column is a true story -- every word of it.

It's true-- I speak like a robot! You must charge something for the lemonade.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:54 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


They may be giving lemonade away at a loss, but they're going to make it up in volume.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:55 AM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


the perfect post. too stupid to waste time on, too interesting to ignore
posted by kitchenrat at 7:55 AM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Also, based on Mefites' "he"'s, just a quick heads-up that Terry ≠ Michael, in case anyone's making that mistake consciously or unconsciously.
posted by WCityMike at 7:56 AM on July 7, 2010


The lemonade almost certainly belonged (in a legal sense) to the kids' parents. The parents presumably gave the lemonade and the other supplies to the children with the understanding that it would be given away for free. Who does Terry Savage think she is, telling other people what they can and can't do with their financial resources? Sounds to me like she's some sort of socialist commie bureaucrat.

Also, how does she know that these tykes weren't trying to take down the whole rotten, inefficient lemonade stand system from the inside by giving it all away for free? Isn't that how Atlas Shrugged starts? Maybe they were all little John Galts.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:57 AM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


And that's the Savage Truth!

If I'm ever at a party and I projectile vomit on every wall of the room and then all over my pants and then in the punch bowl and then in the silverware drawer and all over the breakfast nook, I will make sure to shout "AND THAT'S THE SAVAGE TRUTH!" afterwards.

This will cause the party guests to say, "oh, then what he said must be true. Every word of it."
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:57 AM on July 7, 2010 [13 favorites]


Ha ... I remember reading a sci-fi short story where a under-the-thumb alien race is producing toys for human kids, One year they make a monopoly clone which, as it turns out, is changed so that the objective is to give all your money away.

The twist of the story is that the aliens are undermining the children's sense of capitalism in order to more easily undermine the human race in the future.

It all starts with teaching children bad habits.
posted by jannw at 7:58 AM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Does Terry Savage believe that children who do charge for lemonade have come to a financial arrangement to compensate their parents? Does she believe that the dollar-a-lemonade stands are, in effect, selling short: taking over a commodity, reselling it, and then replacing the commodity or paying the debt incurred? Probably not.

So, why is is better, in her opinion, to charge money for something that was likely given outright to them?

I had exactly one lemonade stand as a child. I made the goddamned lemonade myself, and cookies to go with it. It took me a whole day, and the next day I set up my big wooden toy stove with carefully arranged plates and pitchers and a big hand-drawn sign. Then the brats across the street put up a table bedecked with a sign written by a grown-up, put out cookies and Kool-aid that their mom made while they played in the yard. They put in no effort at all.

That experience really soured me on selling lemonade. Yes, I see the irony of this.

posted by Elsa at 8:00 AM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sun-Times letters to the editors responding to Terry's column.
posted by WCityMike at 8:02 AM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


What is it with columnists named Savage? (And yes, I include the transphobic, biphobic, racist, etc Dan Savage.)
posted by kmz at 8:03 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


The parents presumably gave the lemonade and the other supplies to the children with the understanding that it would be given away for free.

Or, also likely, the parents gave the lemonade to the kids and said 'Build a lemonade stand!' and figured the kids would get, like, twelve cents by the end of the day, and who cares? Terry Savage's rant only makes sense if the kids raided their parents' lemonade stash or if the parents are depending on a sound fiscal return from this venture capitalism in order to pay the electric bill.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:03 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


AS a parent of lemonade stand age owning children, I think the point was missed, or at least the point I got from the story. It's not OMG AYN RAND! it's that people (and more specifically kids) don't understand the concept of free. The lemonade wasn't free, the parents paid for the lemons, sugar ice etc.

My kids think everything is free. The lights are definitely free. Cablevision is free. Gas is free. Toilet paper is most certainly free. The cold air inside the fridge is manufactured by good natured pixies, it's completely free.

Those kids need a beating, mostly becuase they need a nanny to supervise their running a lemonade stand.

And before y'all start accusing me of stifling good natured make the world a better place kumbaya singing little girls, know this, all little girls between 4 and 12 are good natured little hippies that want to save sea turtles and make right the worlds injustices, until they don't. Teaching them some simple economics isn't going to change this.
posted by Keith Talent at 8:04 AM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


This makes me kind of wonder how well a "pay what you feel is fair" pricing model would work for a couple of cute kids running a lemonade stand. I bet they'd rake it in--I know I'd be pretty generous, though I guess hired domestic help standing nearby might temper my donation a bit.
posted by maxwelton at 8:07 AM on July 7, 2010


Also, based on Mefites' "he"'s, just a quick heads-up that Terry ≠ Michael, in case anyone's making that mistake consciously or unconsciously.

And also, Terry ≠ Daniel, but I doubt anybody would confuse those two... ;-)
posted by crazy_yeti at 8:08 AM on July 7, 2010


"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."

"After you're making enough profit, you will then be able to pay someone else to sell the lemonade, while you focus on obtaining more lemonade supplies. Once this is profitable enough, you can hire someone else to shop for your supplies, while you buy a nice house and relax. At this point, you should use some of your profits to purchase the debt of your lemonade-stand competitors and resell this debt for a profit to a collections agency so that your competitors will be driven out of existence. Now you should take a good hard look at your lemonade ingredients. Do you really need to pay for real lemons? It's really the lemon flavor and smell that people are paying for. Find a supplier of these bulk chemical compounds. You should now have enough leverage in your local market to demand water rights to local aquifers. Buy some local government officials if you need to.

Be sure to invest in some good PR at this point, since some hipsters might be annoyed by the flavor profile modification and start researching whether your product is certified organic. Just come up with an organic-sounding name coupled with a green leaf logo of some kind. A check-mark is also a good idea for your packaging, along with the word "smart" or "wise."

Silly children, I thought.
posted by odinsdream at 8:10 AM on July 7, 2010 [23 favorites]


"If we can't teach our kids the basics of running a lemonade stand, how can we ever teach Congress the basics of economics?"

Read my lips: you're a fucking asshole!
posted by ericb at 8:16 AM on July 7, 2010


Find a supplier of these bulk chemical compounds.

Yep ... and, kids, here's a hint: supplies from China are a real bargain!
posted by ericb at 8:18 AM on July 7, 2010


When I was in New Orleans I went to the big park there and saw the most adorable little girls selling girl scout cookies. Am I made of stone? No. No I am not. I bought a box of thin mints.

2 weeks later I'm in San Fransisco and right at the big Market Street subway stop (the one with the streetcar turnaround) there was another catch of the most adorable little girls ever selling girl scout cookies to the tourists in line.

They upped by the price by 5 bucks.
posted by The Whelk at 8:19 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


netcraft.com reports that both the linked article on suntimes.com and Terry Savage's personal website are hosted using free software. She may write otherwise, but when costs are on the line Terry is just another free-monger like the rest of us! Scandalous!
posted by melatonic at 8:20 AM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


From the reddit thread, the webserver dishing this schlock is running…(like you need a drumroll):
Server:Apache/2.2.2 (Unix) mod_ssl/2.2.2 OpenSSL/0.9.7a mod_auth_csc/1.0.1 mod_jk/1.2.18
X-Powered-By:Servlet 2.4; JBoss-4.0.5.GA (build: CVSTag=Branch_4_0 date=200610162339)/Tomcat-5.5
So, Apache and Java. Open source, $0.00.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:20 AM on July 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


Jinx!
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:21 AM on July 7, 2010


This makes me kind of wonder how well a "pay what you feel is fair" pricing model would work for a couple of cute kids running a lemonade stand. I bet they'd rake it in--

I saw one of those just a few weeks ago, in Sitka, Alaska. Some kids had set up on the street that runs between the cruise ship tender dock and the National Historic Park. It was a chilly day, and they had hot coffee and cookies on the table.

"How much for a coffee and a cookie?" we asked.

"Whatever you think it's worth," came the reply.

Man, did they clean up that day ... damn little geniuses ...
posted by woodblock100 at 8:21 AM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Savage comes off like Ed Wuncler, Sr. in his efforts to monetize Jazmine's lemonade stand on The Boondocks. What a meathead.
posted by porn in the woods at 8:24 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, I for one am glad this was posted. Because there's a columnist for my gawdawful local rag who I thought was the world's champeen at the bait-and-switch column - wherein you begin with a carefully rendered anecdote and then proceed to an axe you want to grind about some hot topic that has nothing remotely to do with the anecdote you just wrote - but now I know that there's always a shittier, more disingenuous columnist with even less integrity out there somewhere if you keep looking. I figure they must be spontaneously willed into being somewhere by some extradimensional force.

It's true. Shitty newspaper columnists defy the basic laws of physics that way. If you could figure out a way to spin a turbine with disingenuous anecdotes, you could build a perpetual motion machine.
posted by gompa at 8:30 AM on July 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


Empath has something of a point. The singly linked OE is so stupid that the only reactions are on how it is bullshit and stupid (and some confusion about the author's gender).
posted by a robot made out of meat at 8:31 AM on July 7, 2010


Bless her heart. It's a wonder she's survived so long on the mean streets of Chicago. Here's a tip, Terry: The first cup is free, THEN THEY JACK UP THE PRICE!
posted by hydrophonic at 8:34 AM on July 7, 2010


Don't get me wrong, the writer is angry and a little weird, so much so that I can't tell if this is satire or just bordering on latte-frothy rage, but the basic point is that Americans have been operating the United States government without too much attention paid to the bottom line, for too long, running up debt and deficit, and allowing someone else to think about the hard stuff. It's a hell of a lot of fun to be the one giving away stuff, after all. The bill comes due eventually, though. The government isn't a for-profit operation, but it isn't exactly Willy Wonka's factory, either. Just look at, say, Illinois.

I might wonder where the heck Savage was when we voted in Project Iraq, for what will be a couple of trillion dollars, but the point stands. And it isn't just limited to the treasury, either. We have been running our natural resources like the free lemonade stand, too. "Whee, look at all of this stuff someone put in the pantry!" Then we let someone else worry about cleaning up the mess we've made in the kitchen and restocking.

Of course, in reality, our parents aren't the ones who have to do the cleanup ... it's our kids and grandkids.

Having said that, the piece was not particularly well-written.
posted by adipocere at 8:38 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh well, cancel Christmas, since it is obviously some COMMIE plot to make people give things to one another without money changing hands. And $deity forbid a child get money from their parents to simply buy something for someone else, even if it is a parent, sibling, or relative!

War against Christmas indeed! Maybe we SHOULD make war against this COMMIE plot!

(I bet they put fluoride in those presents, Mandrake.)
posted by imneuromancer at 8:39 AM on July 7, 2010


Like people said above, she could have tipped them...but something makes me feel she's not a good tipper in, say, a restaurant.
posted by swooz at 8:45 AM on July 7, 2010


Batshit insane conservative is batshit insane.
posted by edheil at 8:48 AM on July 7, 2010


Terry Savage gave away this valuable lesson in economics for free. And again, on the internet, where I didn't pay extra to read this wonderful life lesson. She could use a lesson from Mr. Murdoch!

And besides, what kind of smacktard draws conclusions about whats wrong with an entire country based on what three little girls are doing?
posted by Xoebe at 8:49 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


My kids think everything is free. The lights are definitely free. Cablevision is free. Gas is free. Toilet paper is most certainly free. The cold air inside the fridge is manufactured by good natured pixies, it's completely free.

So, you haven't been doing a good job teaching your children about money, then?

I mean, my four-year-olds operate on a marble economy that includes loans and debt, and are fully aware that everything we have costs money, that we work to earn that money, and that when we choose to do one thing with money there are other things we can no longer do until we save more money. It wasn't hard.
posted by davejay at 8:53 AM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yes, teach kids the economic model behind a lemonade stand...

.. and then try to keep them interested in the chain of supply and demand half an hour later when they're bored and want to know if they can buy a puppy with a nickel.

That'll work.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:53 AM on July 7, 2010


If you're conflating the principles of open source software with giving away lemonade, you probably owe it to yourself to read "The Cathedral & The Bazaar" again.

I've never seen a column by this person in my life, and I'll agree it's overly simplistic and comes off as sort of right wing. But I'll also go on record as having the only dissenting view out of all the other responses I've seen. She kinda has a point. The whole idea behind running a lemonade stand is to learn an economic lesson. If you want to set up a stand on the sidewalk with a sign that says "I love unicorns" then do it, but that's not really the same as selling lemonade. When I was a kid we did it to make money for Nintendo games (fuck I'm old); had we been smart enough we would have done the "pay what you think it's worth" thing as well.

In other words, I think most of you are missing the point of "free". And by doing so, you kind of walked into her right-wing troll. You see her dismissal of free and you're all "OMG steampunk burning man free is awesome fuck this asshole!" Her real (hamfisted, mostly obscured, poorly communicated) point was: shit costs money. Don't undervalue yourself and the things you create. Then she went off the deep end and sort of trolled herself with that comment about congress, which was weak and dumb.

So, yeah. Meta-troll.
posted by littlerobothead at 8:53 AM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Keith Talent: My kids think everything is free.

You really need to get Richard Scarry's What Do People Do All Day?
posted by russilwvong at 8:54 AM on July 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


Don't get me wrong, the writer is angry and a little weird, so much so that I can't tell if this is satire or just bordering on latte-frothy rage, but the basic point is that Americans have been operating the United States government without too much attention paid to the bottom line, for too long, running up debt and deficit, and allowing someone else to think about the hard stuff. It's a hell of a lot of fun to be the one giving away stuff, after all. The bill comes due eventually, though. The government isn't a for-profit operation, but it isn't exactly Willy Wonka's factory, either. Just look at, say, Illinois.

This is the same basic point that repubs have recently decided is NUMBER 1 IMPORTANT ISSUE now that they are not the ones making the fiscal choices, It's a bullshit tactic wherein they get to pretend they are the responsible parents, sensibly pointing out that "well, you know, there is no such thing as a free lunch." Suddenly they get to pretend that they are on the side of economic responsibility, neatly glossing over the first decade of this millennium and the billions of dollars in unfunded tax cuts (and a war or two).

At the same time Savage gets to preach about fiscal realism, she also gets to quietly point out that some Americans - read: naive liberal voters, poor people - think that handouts are awesome and why should they have to work anyhow?

The only reason the republican party is harping about the deficit (during a recession for christ's sake) is because it is literally the only moral argument they can make against popular and sensible democratic legislation. That, and they get to villainize that Keynesian scumbag Krugman too - double bonus!
posted by Think_Long at 8:55 AM on July 7, 2010 [8 favorites]


Wow. Seconding the asshattery. On the other hand, this reminds me of the film "The Yen Family", and that's not a bad thing.
posted by sneebler at 8:56 AM on July 7, 2010


Amateur.

The kids in my neighborhood have become really, really proactive when it comes to selling lemonade. I think there are two competing stands a block apart most weekends, so in order to drum up more business (and claim territory) they have started going door to door to sell their product.

One of the roving sales teams approached me two weeks ago while I was working in the garden. They offered a glass of lemonade for 50 cents, but as I was in my grubby yardwork clothes, I didn't have pockets, let alone any money.

"Look," I said, "I don't have any money on me and my wife won't let me in the house all dirty, but I would like a glass of lemonade, so I'll make a deal with you. I need help moving some of these rocks from here to there. If you two help me, I'll pay you each 50 cents, which would be the cost of two cups of lemonade, so that way everyone will be happy - I'll get the rocks moved and you'll make two sales."

"Sure!" says the kid holding the portable lemonade jug. He puts the jug down and starts to help haul rocks.

The other kid, the one with the cups and the money starts to follow, but then pauses. "Wait! Don't do it! It's a trick!"

"What?" the other kid says.

"He's going to pay for the lemonade with our money!"

The hauler stops. "I don't get it. He's paying us 50 cents, right?"

"Yeah, but that's for moving rocks, not for lemonade." He then turns to me and takes a half step in front of the lemonade jug. His eyes narrow as he crosses his arms. "Rocks or lemonade. Rocks or lemonade."

"Fine, you caught me. I'll see if I can get a dollar," I grumble as I climb the steps to my house. I pause on the landing and turn to the kid with business sense. "So just to be clear, when I get back, he'll be finished moving the rocks and you'll have a cup of lemonade for me. Deal?"

The kid gives a nod to his friend who immediately resumes moving rocks. "Deal," he says, smirking.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:04 AM on July 7, 2010 [21 favorites]


And that is true, Think Long, but just because Republicans finally get around to pointing out a problem, even if it is one they are guilty of creating, does not mean that the problem does not exist. Yes, falling back on fiscal conservatism because that is all they have left to sell. Absolutely, complete hypocrites. Also, not wrong.

Even if the guy pulling the fire alarm is the arsonist, there could still be a fire.
posted by adipocere at 9:09 AM on July 7, 2010


Her real (hamfisted, mostly obscured, poorly communicated) point was: shit costs money. Don't undervalue yourself and the things you create.

Honestly, and I mean this with no snark, the point that seemed (to me) to be communicated was that she was offended by the idea of people giving away things for free, and that it is emblematic of a nation of welfare queens who expect everything in life to be free.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:10 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Did she pay her brother for driving her around, I wonder.
posted by boo_radley at 9:11 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I lived on a rural property near Phoenix for a couple of years that had 19 citrus trees on it. Three kinds of oranges, two kinds of grapefruit, limes, and yes... lemons.

Every winter, we'd have so much goddamn citrus fruit, we'd be desperate to get rid of the stuff. I'm telling ya, people, it's worse than tomato and zucchini season combined.

You'd better damn well believe, the lemonade was free!
posted by hippybear at 9:13 AM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


This somehow reminds me of these AmeriCorps kids who volunteered/ did their service at a nonprofit I freelanced at for a few months. It was sort of an elitest nonprofit, so I can see how this bunch was vetted for fitting in. The charity was generally funded by the Executive Director's father's company's foundations and friends and family. The ones that were hired by the nonprofit I was at came in everyday with Starbucks, dressed to the nines, girls carrying Coach bags and wearing expensive sunglasses, parents co-signing on Georgetown and Dupont Circle apartments, no worries about student loan payments, talk about their amazing vacations, discussion of why anybody would bother to sit in coach class, how clothes at such and such expensive store are just better made and are investments, and how Lexuses are investments. One of the AmeriCorps kids started talking and randomly told me one day that his parents were so smart about investing their money that they told him that he would never have to worry about money in his life. I think AmeriCorps gave them less than $1000 a month to live on in our area. And a lot of AmeriCorps volunteers w/o rich parents really only live on less than $1000 and struggle (the ones I've seen around here). The kids I worked with didn't have to. One of the girls had a BMW that I never figured out if it was hers as a graduation present or a "cast-off" from her parents.

In the same breath, they all spoke about how deeply they believed in sacrificing all the big bucks they would have made from their poli sci/English lit degrees from GW and NYU and Vanderbilt, and joining the nonprofit (not that it was a good job market at the time so safe to say no one was banging down their doors offering $40K) as AmeriCorps volunteers. They loved the galas held at the socialite's parents' estate, they loved hobnobbing with her parents' fancy friends and gossiping. There was always some spiel about how they were "so fortunate" (which they were) that it was their duty to work as volunteers and sacrifice and teach the poor everything they learned from their rich parents.

It really seemed more like their parents were the ones paying for their lifestyle, but if parents want to indulge, fine. They loved to feel good about themselves though, and pretend they were sacrificing.
posted by anniecat at 9:14 AM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Adipocere has it right - while this is the badly-written right-wing equivalent of a bleeding heart (Oh, won't someone please think of the the economy!), there's a useful point here - that there is nothing very laudable in being generous with other people's resources. And it's a problem not just about free vs. profitable, but about smart use of non-profit resources too.

Consider the following example. Little orphan Annie has $5 of her own, so in the spirit of giving she buys some lemonade and sets up a lemonade stand. Along comes Henry Hobo, and Annie offers him a glass of lemonade. 'No thanks,' says Henry, what I actually want is $1 in cash.' 'How selfish!' says Annie. 'You'll just spend that on nasty old beer, and not my tasty lemonade.' Now Annie may well be right, but the fact remains that she does not want to give away money, she wants to give away lemonade in particular. Why? because she gets a social payoff for it, everyone talks about the cute girl giving away lemonade.

This is exactly what a lot of charity and international aid consisted of until the last decade or two: offering people free stuff that they didn't particularly need or want because it was a way to run down the lemon surplus and be seen to be generous at the same time. When people in Africa or wherever said they would actually like to have cash to spend on projects of their own, we complained that they were corrupt and uneducated. Outfits like Grameen Bank and others managed to get past that to some extent, by showing a model of lending to people contingent on responsible behavior, which has worked quite well and proved popular with some donors.

But attempts to grow this model by lending to larger (though still very tiny) enterprises, or soliciting actual investment rather than just donation, have not proved so popular - some people at this end start complaining about infecting the spirit of giving with feelthy capitalism and so forth.

While I don't have a problem with cute little girls handing out free lemonade, in the larger scheme of things it's a lousy model. If you disagree, tell me why we have high unemployment, because I'm not seeing any job openings at the Free Lemonade Company.
posted by anigbrowl at 9:19 AM on July 7, 2010


Oh, for goodness sake!

What about the kids in my neighborhood who opened what looked like a lemonade stand?

I stopped, also thinking that these kids had an entrepreneurial spirit that needed to be supported. I offered to buy the couple taking their evening walk a cup as well as one for me, as I only had a $5 and the change from my ashtray. I asked the kid the price, thinking I had enough quarters to cover it. A dollar says she. I rock back a bit. Uh, okay, I hand her my $5, "got any change?" She had .75. I gave her the buck, took the change and then took a sip. Water.

Sooooo. I paid a kid for a coldish dixie cup full of water.

Huh. I expect this kid to be laughing with her parents as they watch Glenn Beck while cooking dinner.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:27 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


As an aid to the reader, I've constructed the following chart to help you

Better Know Your Savage:

Good
Adam Savage
Fred Savage
Vandal Savage
Randy "Macho Man" Savage

Bad
Terry Savage
Michael Savage

Straddling the line
Dan Savage

Noble
Tonto
Queequeg
Friday
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:39 AM on July 7, 2010 [41 favorites]


Straddling the line
Dan Savage

Heh.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:41 AM on July 7, 2010


Ha ... I remember reading a sci-fi short story where a under-the-thumb alien race is producing toys for human kids, One year they make a monopoly clone which, as it turns out, is changed so that the objective is to give all your money away.

The twist of the story is that the aliens are undermining the children's sense of capitalism in order to more easily undermine the human race in the future.


The story is "War Game", by Philip K. Dick. And in typically pessimistic Dick fashion, those antagonists—the Ganymedeans—aren't aliens, they're competing human corporatists from elsewhere in the Sol system, whose latest shipment of toys needing approval by the Terran Import Bureau of Standards include that Monopoly-like boardgame (called "Syndrome"), a cowboy suit that induces imaginative fugues (and which the testers declare insidious because it induces a childlike state of wonder, the irony of their fear that it would cause kids to act like...imaginative kids...clearly part of Dick's intent), and a complex soliders-and-fort automata.

The bulk of the story focuses on the soldiers toy, as a few members of the Standards team observe its apparently endless variations on Invade The Fort routines and think up all kinds of awful things it could secretly be—from a psychological whammy to a self-assembling nuclear bomb. And they are so distracted by this obsession with the soldiers that they give the board game only a passing glance, playing through most of a game and concluding its just a Monopoly ripoff before turning their attention back to the soldiers.

In the last couple of pages, a toy store manager named Joe Hauck brings a "borrowed" copy of the Syndrome game (the only of three products eventually cleared for release and sale) home to his family. He sits down to play with his son and daughter, and concludes as the testers did that it's just a Monopoly rip:
...he acquired shares of stock with cunning and originality, until, toward the conclusion of the game, he had cornered most of the syndromes.

He settled back with a sigh of contentment. "That's that,"he declared to his children. "Afraid I had a head start. After all, I'm not new to this type of game." Getting hold of the valuable holdings on the board filled him with a powerful sense of satisfaction. "Sorry to have to win, kids."

His daughter said, "You didn't win."

"You lost," his son said.

"What?", Joe Hauck exclaimed.

"The person who winds up with the most stock loses," Lora said.

..

"They don't know Monopoly," Hauyck said to himself, "so this screwball game doesn't seem strange to them."

Anyhow, the important thing was that the kids enjoyed playing Syndrome; evidently it would sell, and that was what mattered. Already the two youngsters were learning the naturalness of surrendering their holdings. They gave up their stocks and money avidly, with a kind of trembling abandon.

Glancing up, her eyes bright, Lora said, "It's the best educational toy you ever brought home, Dad!"
posted by cortex at 9:45 AM on July 7, 2010 [11 favorites]


Hot Damn ... well done Cortex. I did try to google it ... suspected it was Dick ... but it was just too long ago (and I muddled up too many facts).
posted by jannw at 10:04 AM on July 7, 2010


he twist of the story is that the aliens are undermining the children's sense of capitalism in order to more easily undermine the human race in the future.

This Terry Savage apparition is from an alien race that nourishes itself by sucking the joy out of childhood.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:13 AM on July 7, 2010


Better Know Your Savage:

Don't forget Ben! I never really watched Wonder Years but I loved Boy Meets World. Topanga was one of my first TV crushes.

(Rider Strong has to be in the running of most awesome name ever.)
posted by kmz at 10:24 AM on July 7, 2010


Ruthless Bunny: Sooooo. I paid a kid for a coldish dixie cup full of water.

When I was little, I am told I set up a lemonade stand. No Dixie cups here, my mom gave me a supply of HUGE plastic glasses from inside the house. Probably 16-20 oz. glasses or so.

One day this burly, hairy, leather-wearing Harley dude rides up, and wants to buy a glass. I was charging 25 cents or so. He gives me a dollar, or $5, I can't remember -- it was a LOT -- and tells me to keep the change. I fill the glass maybe 1/3 full and hand it over.

(That's when Mom came running out to work on my customer service skills. The glass got filled all the way)

According to this delusional harpy, I probably would've deserved an award.

Personally, I think my mom was right.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 10:30 AM on July 7, 2010


There's always money in the banana stand
posted by ServSci at 11:36 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I pushed the button to roll down the window and stuck my head out to set them straight.

Well, that was her mistake right there. Kids are used to having adults spouting off at them and are adept at ignoring it completely. They just heard free blah blah deficit reduction health care giveaway blah retard. What does it mean? Who cares?

What she should have done was to keep the window rolled up. Then the kids would have seen her terrifying harpie mouth opening and shutting, a black hole of silent vitriol. That would have gotten their attention.

After that she could do like those circus freaks do, curl her lower lip up so that it covers everything up to her nostrils. Those horrified little girls would know that their world of mermaids and rainbows was a crepe paper illusion. This is the real world, this is the grotesque reality.

Lemonade is just a grim jape, a false mummery played by toothy adults on the young. Oh, sell it off before it's too late. Make it $50 a cup, the price of a good bottle of Scotch to carry away the tearful death of innocence.
posted by storybored at 11:41 AM on July 7, 2010 [12 favorites]


The whole idea behind running a lemonade stand is to learn an economic lesson. If you want to set up a stand on the sidewalk with a sign that says "I love unicorns" then do it, but that's not really the same as selling lemonade.

The kids never claimed they were "selling lemonade".

That's the whole issue behind this bizarre rant in the original article. Savage thinks that the whole point of a lemonade stand is to teach kids about money. It doesn't occur to her that kids or parents might do things for other reasons than she does or did them.

She probably would flip her lid at my kids playing Scrabble without keeping score, because the whole point of Scrabble is trying to get the highest score.

If I ordered a steak cooked well-done, she'd tell me off because the whole point of ordering a steak is to enjoy the exquisite taste of barely-cooked beef.
posted by straight at 11:46 AM on July 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


When life gives you lemons, you LECTURE IT ABOUT CAPITALISM
posted by oulipian at 11:51 AM on July 7, 2010 [21 favorites]


The whole idea behind running a lemonade stand is to learn an economic lesson.

I thought the whole idea behind running a lemonade stand was to run a lemonade stand. To be a child. To re-enact a version of one of the elements of the American dream. To become accustomed to interacting with strangers. To get a sense of what your neighborhood is like. To be in the great outdoors.

Not everything is about economics.
posted by blucevalo at 12:09 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Now I know I can start charging kids when I bring them birthday "gifts" "from" my children! Thanks Terry Savage!
posted by thekilgore at 12:17 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


What's weird about this troll-piece is that Savage's point would make some sense if, say, the girls sold the lemonade and then split the profits without reimbursing their parents for the raw materials for the lemonade stand.

Her point would also make some sense if the free lemonade girls returned the next week, but this time charging for it, leading to adults complaining that the lemonade is no longer free. Her ire would have to be directed against the adults in this case, but it would still sort of work.

As it stands, it's just pure idiocy, because as earlier posters point out, giving lemonade away (playing host) is a completely different exercise than selling it (playing entrepreneur). She might as well walk past a kid playing with a Rubik's Cube and shout "GET A JOB!"
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:27 PM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


As I always say, unless life also gives you sugar, your lemonade is gonna suck.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:47 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


They're learning a lesson that people who are obsessed with money are rotten inside and will die alone.
posted by stavrogin at 1:04 PM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Christ, what an asshole.
posted by clvrmnky at 1:10 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's possible she's thinking of Lemonade Stand, the venerable Apple II economics game. This would explain the robotic emphasis on profit and loss, and the complete failure to grasp any other beneficial aspect of being outside in the sun, meeting people.
posted by zamboni at 1:21 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


She's going to run into these kids a month from now. "We thought about what you said, and you're right. Money's where it's at. We're too young to intern at Cravath, so we're in the dope game now. Lisa across the street just paid off her Prius mortgage. Todd in the 2nd grade's saving up for his future children's college fund. We're doing this thing."
posted by naju at 1:24 PM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Stupid columnist. It's clear these children are selling weed, just like my ice cream man.
posted by electroboy at 2:57 PM on July 7, 2010


I have a huge problem with Robocop is bleeding's bragging post about how he got a "stupid" or "senseless" child to do work for free. The child only wanted to be enthusiastic about his business venture. And shame on his "friend". How is RIB different than all that you fucking bleeding-heart-left-liberal-nerd-freak-hippies rail against?
posted by Student of Man at 3:36 PM on July 7, 2010


Thanks for all the laughs. I have nothing to contribute except that I hated, HATED selling stuff as a kid: GS cookies, GS calendars, Glee Club raffle tickets, etc. It always felt like an imposition to me to ask strangers-- or even worse, friends-- for money. I still remember the time I stood out in front of a bank trying to sell those damned calendars without any success until a customer took pity on me and told me that inside the bank was giving away calendars for free.

A lemonade stand would have been my idea of torture.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:55 PM on July 7, 2010


We need a second link proving the columnist did something wonderful, generous and kind for his community, so we can alternate between accusations of hypocrisy and feelings of guilt.

Does this count?

So many questions unanswered! Whose idea was the pricing? The parents? (Surely not.) The Nanny? (Disgruntled underemployed lefty, could be.) The kids? (If so, very unobservant of the great American cliches. Even Lucy's psychiatrist stand cost a nickel.)

It'll never happen, but I would be really interested to check the principals in another seven years, another fourteen years, twenty one, twenty nine. See if they regretted their missed chance for a few sheckels.

Mind you, kids these day - so much given them, no sense of money, much less avarice.
posted by IndigoJones at 4:36 PM on July 7, 2010


The twist of the story is that the aliens are undermining the children's sense of capitalism in order to more easily undermine the human race in the future.

Agh! Evil alien plot!
posted by ZsigE at 4:39 PM on July 7, 2010


@blucevalo You're right; not everything is about economics. Unfortunately, selling stuff kind of is.
posted by littlerobothead at 5:13 PM on July 7, 2010


If so, very unobservant of the great American cliches. Even Lucy's psychiatrist stand cost a nickel.)


What? You think the kids today are reading Peanuts?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:34 PM on July 7, 2010


@littlerobothead Did you read the article? They weren't selling stuff.
posted by oulipian at 5:38 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


What? You think the kids today are reading Peanuts?

Hell, I don't think kids today read, watch or listen to much of anything that isn't totally age inappropriate, and get the hell off my lawn.

That said, my darling nine year old does indeed read Peanuts. Found the compilations at the liberry. Though I'm pretty sure she would know that a lemonade stand is typically a commercial enterprise regardless of Mr Schulz. See, the go-getters in our neighborhood bring lemonade door to door so's to guilt adults out.

Works, too.
posted by IndigoJones at 6:00 PM on July 7, 2010


(NB- they overcharge outrageously. Power of marketing.)
posted by IndigoJones at 6:01 PM on July 7, 2010


My mom once chastised me for yelling "Who's that funny looking kid with the big nose?" in public.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:31 PM on July 7, 2010


No one cares how X is related to your fucked up Y.
posted by Moistener at 8:36 PM on July 7, 2010


Student of Man: Read the post again. Carefully.
posted by Grimgrin at 9:20 PM on July 7, 2010


The government only gets the money to pay these benefits by raising taxes, meaning taxpayers pay for the "free lemonade." Or by printing money -- which is essentially a tax on savings, since printing more money devalues the wealth we hold in dollars.

If we can't teach our kids the basics of running a lemonade stand, how can we ever teach Congress the basics of economics?


Actually, he's right. The current deficit is the direct result of having a Congress that cut taxes without cutting spending. Since people want the services government provides, we're going to have to raise taxes at some point to pay for them. The Republicans seem to think they can pass that burden on to their children...or rather, on to someone else's children, since I'm sure they think their own children will be above all that. And they've moved the Overton window so far into crazy that even the Democrats are afraid to talk sense.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 11:37 PM on July 7, 2010


The government only gets the money to pay these benefits by raising taxes, meaning taxpayers pay for the "free lemonade."

If the kids' parents are rich enough to be giving away mini candy bars and lemonades and have a nanny, aren't they the recipients of corporate welfare, or maybe they really deserve all of their wealth because they're amazingly talented individuals and the economy would come to a full stop if they weren't there to be whatever they are in their professional lives because no one else could do what they do.
posted by anniecat at 12:01 PM on July 8, 2010


A bit late to the thread, but this article is a great response and is worth a read.
posted by threetoed at 9:29 PM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Lunacy.

Sticherbeast explains it well: if the girls had sold the lemonade (apparently derived from their parents) and kept the money (without returning the parents their initial investment), there would have been a "problem," i.e. as defined by Savage, i.e. "getting something for nothing."

The girls understand that their own fortunate circumstances (parents who can afford extra lemonade) allowed their lemonade stand to exist in the first place and "charged" the proper "price" for the lemonade, i.e. enough to cover their expenses ($0) and work (essentially $0 - how fucking hard is it to sit around, pour lemonade, and talk to people? I've paid upwards of $200 for the right to do it.)

The girls likely were not charged by their parents for the lemonade ingredients, why should they be able to charge customers?

Making customers pay for the lemonade would be like Mr. Man Jr. inheriting an oilfield from Mr. Man and making customers pay for the oil. What did Mr. Man Jr. ever do to deserve it aside from being born into the right family?

Oh wait.

(I'm sorta shocked at the number of people here who fall for the idea that there might ever possibly be anything wrong with a person wanting to give something (non-harmful) away for free.)
posted by mrgrimm at 10:41 AM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


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