You Can’t Keep Liberty Unless You’re Willing to Give it Away

By Bradley Harrington

“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” — Benjamin Franklin, “Pennsylvania Assembly Response to Governor,” 1755 —

WTE3 Column #104 Illustration -- Police Raid Lemonade StandFor anyone who might think that our freedoms to produce, trade and keep the products are efforts are alive and well here in the United States, you haven’t been paying attention:

“Denver police shut down a lemonade stand put on by a group of brothers over a permitting issue … When Jennifer Knowles helped her sons set up their first lemonade stand over the weekend, she thought it would be a lesson in entrepreneurship and charity.” (“Child’s lemonade stand shut down for lack of permit,” Channel 4 CBS Denver News, May 29,

An admirable goal, no doubt — but it “turns out you need a permit to operate a lemonade stand in Denver … The city says it’s about health and safety, but in the Knowles’ case, competition may also be in play.”

What, some OTHER kids’ stand next door? Not quite: “The Knowles set up right next to the Denver Arts Festival, where there was a lemonade vendor … The family sold lemonade 2 for $1, while, she says, the vendor sold it for $7 a glass.”

Oops! Well, we sure can’t have any punk kids undercutting the bureaucratically “approved” competition, now can we?

“In hindsight,” Knowles said, “we would have never set up where we did, when we did, and we would have just done it another time. Lesson learned.”

Except, Ms. Knowles, you’ve learned the wrong lesson: Instead of caving in to the Lemonade Gestapo, you needed to have resisted their encroachments upon your liberties! Up to, and including, the possibility of having you and your boys being arrested in order to bring attention to such a bogus infringement upon our alleged “American” right to peacefully produce in any fashion we see fit.

Now, I realize, Ms. Knowles, that not all of us citizens are as “gung-ho” on civil disobedience in the face of such stupid laws as I am, and I’m not necessarily saying that such a move would have been practicable in your particular case … Although a picture of your kids being placed in handcuffs for daring to operate a non-city-approved lemonade stand would certainly have given the rest of the citizenry a picture of the true situation, would it have not?

I AM saying, however, that to simply give in and walk away is to grant the Denver bureaucrats the right to control your non-aggressive activities. Why should YOU be retreating while the bureaucrats, armed with their silly little permits, win the day?

On a free market, if the “competition” can’t handle being competed against, the price-gougers lose and go out of business, while consumers gain through lower prices. Which is exactly the fashion in which this country got built in the first place, isn’t it?

From the attempts of the “mercantilists” back in Colonial times onward, so-called “free-marketers” have always been expert at getting special legislation passed in order to throttle those would undercut their inefficiencies.

Legislation, I might add, that is not possible in a truly free market — for, in such a capitalistic social system, the executive powers act solely to protect life, liberty and property from aggression and they have no legal ability to engage in such blatant social engineering schemes.

As for the claims on the part of Denver’s bureaucrats regarding “health and safety,” that’s nothing more than a smokescreen for establishing near-omnipotent power and control over all our lives. After all, wouldn’t our “health and safety” demand that we not ride four-wheelers on steep hills? Or that we not engage in hang-gliding, or horse racing, or bungee-jumping, or rock climbing, or greasy-cheeseburger-eating, or a million other activities?

Once we grant the bureaucrats the “right” to control us in order to protect us from ourselves, where does it end? The only place it CAN end: With the government manipulating every little minute aspect of our lives, all for “our own good” and our “health and safety” of course … While our individual rights to do whatever we peacefully please disappear into the bit bucket because we’re all apparently just too stupid to be able to handle anything as explosive as individual freedom.

So, Dear Readers, if any of you would like to fight this kind of lemonade-permitting nonsense, I’d suggest fighting the idea that it’s based on: That ANY of us owe ANY explanations to ANYONE for our peaceful, non-aggressive behaviors. It’s called “liberty,” and you’ll never keep it if you aren’t willing to also give it away.

Bradley Harrington is a computer technician and a writer who lives in Cheyenne. Email:

NOTE: This column was originally published in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle on July 1, 2018. Here is this column’s original downloadable PDF file.

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About Bradley Harrington

A Major Troublemaker!
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