It makes one feel old to reference the good old days but does anyone out there remember when teens made their summer cash by mowing lawns instead of raiding Daddy’s wallet? Well, it seems as though those days are over – at least in one city in Alabama. Just like the controversy over little kids with a lemonade stand, leftists have to put their hand into a honeypot, and we can only hope they pull it out red, swollen and filled with bee stings.
Apparently a city ordinance in Gardendale, Alabama labels teens who mow lawns for cash as “operating without a license” and as criminals. Alainna Parris is one such Gardendale teen. She told ABC that the part-time gig is “just helping out and raising money for [college] admissions and trips.”
The law requires anyone operating a business for profit in the city to obtain a $110 business license. For Alainna, who mows only a few lawns at rates ranging from $20 to $40, the license is too much of a hassle.
To be clear, the law doesn’t exist to target teens and punish them for possessing an entrepreneurial spirit. The licensing fee is just a way for the city to make a little extra revenue off those who chose to do business there. Mayor Stan Hogeland said that sending people after kids mowing lawns for a little summer cash isn’t a priority, but that he is considering ways to bring the teens into compliance with the law.
The issue for Alainna began when an adult lawn care professional told a neighbor that he would call the authorities on the teen if he saw her mowing lawns for money again. Once the man – who presumably paid his $110 licensing fee – reported the issue, city officials had little choice but to act. Mayor Hogeland considers it unfortunate that a teen cutting grass can trigger this sort of complaint, and while he has to do something, he doesn’t want to discourage teens from trying to earn money. “I would love to have something on our books that gave a more favorable response to that student out there cutting grass,” Mayor Hogeland told ABC. “And see if there’s maybe a temporary license during the summer months that targets teenagers.”
Alainna Parris isn’t in any trouble, but she can’t mow lawns for pay until the issue is resolved one way or another. She and all the others who partake in this summer tradition show commendable initiative and motivation. They show a willingness to earn their pay through real work rather than expecting their parents or grandparents just to give them cash. Mowing lawns isn’t exactly a cushy job – there’s a good deal of sweat involved. These teens learn some valuable life lessons, including the value of their time, energy, and money. These are experiences that contribute to a strong work ethic and a strong character and can save the teens some heartache in the future when they have little choice but to work to support themselves.
The grown man’s reporting of the teen’s unlicensed work might have been a petty attempt at cutting out the competition, but it was still in compliance with the law of the land. The real problem is the law itself. Without the license requirement, there would be no situation in which a man who can’t rely on parents or grandparents to pay his bills is forced to jump through bureaucratic and financial hoops to work while his competition doesn’t. To him, it makes no difference that his competition is a teenage girl who only mows a few lawns in the summer months. The city shouldn’t meddle in local business, but rather allow the market to regulate the behavior of entrepreneurs organically.
Since it’s unlikely that Gardendale officials will do away with the licensing fee, the mayor’s idea of a temporary license might be the next best thing – as long as the price isn’t high enough to deter the teens from working. As a society, we need to be encouraging our young people to work – not putting obstacles in their way.