Lessons from a Lemonade Stand: An Unconventional Guide to Government
© 2017 Connor Boyack
Who knew lemonade was a gateway drug to anarchism? Beginning with the true story of several girls who were bullied and fined by their local Officer not-so Friendly because they were selling delicious beverages without a permit from the city, Connor Bayack asks readers old and new a question: what does it mean to be lawful? Where do laws come from, and what happens when laws support oppression, or suppress something innocent or even good? In a short work that draws from Frederic Bastiat, Hannah Arendt, and Monty Python, Lessons from a Lemonade Stand is an education in law, and rights, as well as an appeal for youngsters to go forth and smash the state. Or at least, sell lemonade and braid hair without a license.
Although Lessons from a Lemonade Stand is written for teenagers, the content is by no means juvenile, exploring as it does the nature of law, rights, and the legitimacy of government. Drawing on Frederic Bastiat’s The Law, Boyack argues that everyone has natural rights which exist regardless of any government or other person’s respect of them, and that natural law exists to protect these rights. Because the natural law is based on the respect and protection of these rights, laws cannot violate them and retain their own legitimacy. The same is true for governments, which are organized to protect these rights: its existence is predicated on those rights being respected, and thus it cannot do what is unlawful for the people who created it do. Legitimacy also requires consent, since the government has no life beyond what its members give it. There is then a difference between something being bad because it violates natural rights – theft and murder being the two most obvious — and something being bad because some entity, be it a gang or a federal regulatory board, has declared it bad. Similarly, there is a difference between the natural rights guarding life, liberty, and property, and the statutory ‘rights’ created by governments, which vary widely from place to place and often involve infringing upon the natural rights of others. Having established the difference between violations of the natural vs statutory law, Boyack then reviews a heroes panel of people, many of them young, who have stood for what was ‘right’ against the government’s actions. They stood in the US, in Germany, in Egypt, in Pakistan – across the world, people recognize that just because the ‘government’ says something is right doesn’t make it so. Even those with the best of intentions can go dead wrong when they violate the rights of others.
There’s a lot of information compressed in this little book and it’s full of real-world examples that will add a little fire to the blood. I’d never heard of Helmuth Hübener, the youngest boy (17) to ever be sentenced to death by the ‘people’s court’ in Nazi-controlled Berlin. The moment when a person realizes that truth and right exist independent of authority — that police, or teachers, or politicians can be absolutely wrong — is the moment that a person begins their own journey as an independent thinker and human being. Although I’m in the choir a book like this is preaching to, I also found its review of law helpful.
Connor Boyack is head of the Libertas Institute, which in Utah exists to fight the lemonade police and others. In addition to organizing legislative challenges to casual tyranny, Boyack also writes children’s books about the principles of economics, politics, and liberty. My favorite title is The Tuttle Twins and the Road to Surfdom. His illustrator is Elijah Stanfield.