Financial Idiot Yells at Kids for Giving Away Free Lemonade

by f

Shaddup, wiseguy. It's free if I say it's free!

Apparently, financial experts know how to piss on just about everything.

In the latest on financial irresponsibility, girls at a lemonade stand tried to give away lemonade for on the side of the road for free — but not if Terry Savage had anything to say about it. She parked her car in front of the stand, rolled down her window, and gave those girls everything she had.

I pushed the button to roll down the window and stuck my head out to set them straight.

“You must charge something for the lemonade,” I explained. “That’s the whole point of a lemonade stand. You figure out your costs — how much the lemonade costs, and the cups — and then you charge a little more than what it costs you, so you can make money. Then you can buy more stuff, and make more lemonade, and sell it and make more money.”

(Yes, you go Terry! Do capture that American entrepreneurial spirit!)

And you have to admire the sheer uncorrupted nature of these kids. When, — after that overblown explanation of capitalism and free-market principles — Ms. Savage asked them how much she’d be charged, they insisted on giving the lemonade to her for free.

I was confident I had explained it clearly. Until my brother, breaking the tension, ordered a raspberry lemonade. As they handed it to him, he again asked: “So how much is it?”

And the girls once again replied: “It’s free!” And the nanny looked on contentedly.

The seemingly innocuous mention of the nanny in this section bothers me. Savage tries to make the point that these girls are rich. Ergo, they can afford to give away lemonade. But that’s not altogether true.

Consider this: a tin of Country Time lemonade costs $6.66 at Costco. That equals 136 glasses of lemonade. At that price, the actual worth of a glass is about four cents a piece. It can’t break the bank to give away lemonade. I’ve seen lemonade stands in my neighborhood operate freely — apparently you need to be a licensed vendor to make a profit off a stand — and they manage to give away around fifty glasses on a particularly hot afternoon.

What Terry Savage fails to understand is that not all marginal utility can be measured in cash. Cash does not always equal (or merit) success.

As the excellent Mike Masnick of Tech Dirt says,

Again, I need to remind everyone, that you can read her column for free on the Chicago Sun-Times website. Why? Because the marginal benefit to the Sun Times and to Savage herself is higher in giving away the content for free. In the case of the Sun Times, it’s from the ad revenue it receives, and in Savage’s case whatever (probably too high) sum the Sun-Times pays — and also for the “free promotion” it’s supposed to give to help her sell her books. In other words, the marginal benefit to having her columns online for free is greater than the marginal cost. Just as the marginal benefit to the little girls from seeing happy people by giving them lemonade outweighs the “costs.”

Savage’s pomposity and narrow-mindedness is incredible and frightening. But I’m not sure exactly what her point is. Someone is at fault in this situation, but whom?

Parents, who instill their children with ideas of equality and fairness? The immense generosity of this country?

To find our way around the murky trenches of moral ambiguity, we must listen to Ms Savage, the country’s biggest expert on financial education. In her universe, these children would have price-gouged the lemonade and sold it at, say, $2.50 a glass.

In the end, these children should not be teaching us how to steal. When Ms. Savage rolled down her window to yell at a bunch of generous strangers, she did what she had to do, for the future of our country. If she won’t set an example for us, who will?

Salon.com’s Dan Gillmor calls BS.

But we learned to steal from experts — especially from people like the Wall Street gang whose financial “innovations” were new kinds of paper that were only one step removed from the counterfeiters of yore, and apparently legal only because several generations of politicians were paid to make it so. Successive Congresses and presidents, except for a few years during the Clinton administration, spent our kids’ money with epic irresponsibility.

We learned to steal from the people who raided the treasury for billions in cash that went missing in Iraq after the United States invaded. We learned from the epic corporate welfare of recent years, such as the telecom industry, which got exclusive use of our airwaves and street rights-of-way and then sold it back to us.

Oh, wait, now what?

We’ve arrived at the moral of our story. It’s all right when businesses steal because they do it in the service of capitalism. The government can spend all the money it likes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Got it. When little kids sell lemonade …

Well, you know the rest.

Because, folks, everything costs money. And, in Savage’s ideal world, foraging colonies of the chronically unemployed would be charged for foraged berries and furtive drinks by the stream.

I’d love to stay longer, but I can’t. I have that gravity bill to pay. And then there’s the pesky breathing surcharge.

Update: Well, lookie here!

A Chicago Now contributor who rushes to Terry’s defense has noticed the “nanny” allusion. Sadly, this man is a jerk.

I disagree with the dismissive tone of the headline here on HotAir. It is a lemonade stand, yes. But Terry Savage is wholly right to despise these idiot girls and their Mexican nanny. These kids were learning the WRONG message and their parents should be excoriated for it.

No mention of the nanny’s nationality was given in this piece, and he knows it.

I admit my stab at the unspoken nationality of the nanny was meant for shock value. But my slap at the nanny wasn’t what incensed Mr. Buy Danish. He was mad that I dared have something to say about the girl’s actions.

But that’s not what’s made us really upset. No, it’s our inability to swallow the whole free-market principle thing and take the girls to task for their sins.

I’m just going to leave it at that, because the stupidity just speaks for itself.

3 Comments to “Financial Idiot Yells at Kids for Giving Away Free Lemonade”

  1. *twitch* Their Mexican nanny? Nonono. That was completely out of line. Savage’s piece makes it clear that this is an “upscale neighborhood” complete with nannies, but there is NOTHING about where the nanny comes from or what she looks like. In fact, I don’t think we even get a gender, it’s assumed that the nanny is female.

    …Oh my god, that last link is reprehensible. Now it’s a Honduran nanny, from a “ritzy, liberal northern suburb of Chicago.” He calls the parents liberals, again. When did kids setting up a lemonade stand become so politicized!? When did that make them commies!?

    These people are delirious. They see the end of civilization everywhere they look.

    I dub Terry Savage (and Warner Todd Huston) our first Deliribint.

    • I agree!

      No, it’s just grown men acting like assholes because they can. Once upon a time it was a good thing to shut your trap but now everybody’s in the business of insulting people indiscriminately.

  2. She’s lucky I wasn’t the nanny. I’d have walked over to her car and given her a piece of my mind for being such a creep to little girls who were just trying to do something nice and fun on a hot day. But, I guess having fun making other people feel good is a terrible thing.

    I actually quite admire these little girls for the way they acted in the face of this nonsense. It sounds as if they listened to her politely (more than I would’ve done right there), and then still offered them lemonade for free. I would’ve been like the Soup Kitchen guy on Seinfeld instead. “No lemonade for you!”

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