Now here's a feel-good story for you. Joshua Smith is nine. He heard his hometown, Detroit, was broke. So he set up a lemonade and popcorn stand in front of his modest home. He dedicates the proceeds to the city, to pay down its debt.
I will not be cynical about Joshua. Good kid. Willing to work. Heart in the right place. Plus, undoubtedly, other virtues once associated with the idea of being American.
However, I'm a little concerned about the city he is trying to help. Detroit is, of course, ruled by grasping politicians who control a regulatory Stasi even Honecker would have been proud of. Unt dey haf ways. That's why Detroit is broke.
Who can doubt that someone with a badge is checking on this lad? Street vending license? Health department license? Zoning approval? Local EPA-like organization hazmat clearances? City, county, state, and federal tax ID number? Sales tax permit? Compliance with EOE dictates? Timely filed reports to OSHA?
Young men like Josh both irritate and frighten the Hacks of City Hall (and Congress etc.).
For one thing, they cringe at yet another shot of publicity calling attention to the results of their stupid and venal ways. Worse yet, they detest a demonstration that a nine-year-old boy knows more about the problems and their solutions than they do.
Of course there's one large structural problem with Joshua's plan. When he turns his profits over to the city he is, by definition, handing money to the politicians. They will piss it away. Or steal it.