The Death of the Entrepreneurial Spirit

November 26, 2010

A couple of weeks ago, we saw the death of the entrepreneurial spirit in the form of three thirteen-year-old boys who were closed down by cops for selling their cupcakes next to the entrance of the park without a permit.

The person who turned them in is a councilman on the Town Board who came upon them on the second day of their sales and asked if they were raising money for a charity. When they said they were saving up to buy a hot dog cart so they could earn enough money to open a restaurant, the councilman, after telling the boys he would be back to buy something, sprinted away as fast as his little legs could take him and reported them to the cops.
As expected, a story like this, pitting hardworking thirteen-year-old students with entrepreneurial vision against big government, first hit the newspapers and then it went viral over the Internet.

The councilman expressed surprise that overnight he had become a pariah around the world.  He couldn’t understand why he had become the most hated person on the planet.  He said, “In hindsight, I should have spoken to the boys” instead of reporting them.

In hindsight??  He needed to think about this in hindsight??  Clearly, this is a government official who lacks critical thinking skills and who demonstrates that he can’t think his way out of a paper bag.

Our country was founded on visionaries like these boys.  The first commerce that I can remember was of the immigrant pushcart peddlers who went through the streets hawking their wares.  They went from neighborhood to neighborhood selling items to eager customers from their pushcarts.  When they started to make a lot of money, big government came in and created laws designed to close them down because they were competing with the newly built department stores.

The city government started charging these peddlers outrageous fees for permits and the immigrants, who lived in squalid conditions and worked hard to support their families, suddenly found themselves at the mercy of big government.  And here they are, again, trying to crush the entrepreneurial spirit of three teenage boys with big dreams, enormous ambition and a lot of hard work.

These boys may not be able to raise the money to buy a hot dog cart or open a restaurant but they will do something to create the money they need.  After all, they are the entrepreneurial visionaries of tomorrow.

The councilman who made it hard for the boys to fulfill their dream may find that these same boys could take up the cause of a different candidate when the next election rolls around.  It might be a good thing for this councilman to remember that even small children grow up and become a force to be reckoned with someday.

I admire these boys tremendously.  They are the stuff of the founding fathers of this country.  They teach us what courage and hard work can accomplish and that if they can do it at thirteen, surely, as adults, we can do no less.

And this takes us back to the councilman . . .  since he has a whole town against him right now, I wonder if he will have the same grit and determination, yes, even the same entrepreneurial skills as these boys, to carve out a different career for himself if he should lose the next election.

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