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  • Protectionism Shuts Down "Nathan's" Hot Dogs

    In recent years, this country has been plagued with an epidemic of over-achieving teenage entrepreneurs who refuse to waste their youth sitting in their parents’ basements playing video games. These youths are entering the marketplace in droves to peddle hot dogs and lemonade without any thought to what that kind of competition might do to established local restaurants.

    Thankfully, local governments have begun standing up to these young troublemakers and have finally started enacting protectionist ordinances to rein in the entrepreneurial spirits and financial responsibility of these rebels.

    Take 13-year old Nathan Dusynski, for example. He had the audacity to try to break into the hot dog industry in Holland, Michigan, to earn some money for family bills (his mother suffers from epilepsy and his stepfather has multiple sclerosis) and to start saving for a car and college. He petitioned city hall officials to make sure that his business enterprise was legal, he meticulously researched the issue, he acquired the necessary permits for the spot where he wanted to operate, and he bought a hot dog stand with the $1,200 he had saved from mowing lawns, shoveling snow, and performing other odd jobs.

    Within an hour after he set up shop on commercially zoned private property owned by a family friend, however, city officials revoked his permit, effectively shutting down Nathan’s new enterprise. The reason was that his hot dog stand violated an ordinance providing that non-restaurant associated food vendors could not operate in the downtown commercial district. The city manager justified the ordinance as a measure to protect the already existing downtown restaurants from outside competition from street vendors.

    Across the country, local governments have installed protectionist ordinances like this one with similar results. For example, in Midway, Georgia, and Appleton, Wisconsin, police shuttered lemonade stands run by children in violation of local ordinances enacted to shield preexisting businesses from such fierce competition.

    To be frank, any sit-down restaurant that cannot handle competition from a hot dog stand run by a 13-year-old needs to re-evaluate the quality of its meals—if it should be in business at all—and should not be sheltered from free market competition, especially not by food stands owned and operated by children.

    Zoning practices are commonplace in almost every city and municipality in the United States. The laws are used for a variety of safety, public health, and aesthetic reasons. To use these ordinances to stifle competition and economic growth, however, is to dampen valuable competition—a policy that represents an unjustified governmental infringement on free markets.

    In Nathan’s case, the regulations also stiff-arm children and teenagers who have taken the initiative to start working toward financial independence. That initiative is always welcome, but it is particularly valuable today, when many young adults are taking longer and longer to move out of their parents’ homes and become independent.

    Thankfully, Nathan was able to sell his hot dog stand for a profit, but he is still without a job and an income. Young people like Nathan should be applauded for their hard work and sense of accountability, not tied up in protectionist ordinances that violate the capitalist principles on which the U.S. was founded.

    Gavriel Swerling is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm.

    Posted in Economics [slideshow_deploy]

    8 Responses to Protectionism Shuts Down "Nathan's" Hot Dogs

    1. Contact givemeliberty.org and find some help and counter sue based on Constitutional principles.

    2. @Gaga_In_Fla says:

      Why would anyone want to live in a place like Holland

    3. it is scary to think that a kid is stopped from peddling hot dogs! Then again, maybe safety rules of the area(sidewalk, street,health codes!) have a bearing on this young money wanna maker! to put it another way, I could buy sneakers at kmart, footlocker, sears, pennys, etc; or set up a stand carrying sneakers I want to sell on the sidewalk in front of one of these stores? The stores pay rental fees for location, and as cruel as it sounds about my only using 5square ft of sidewalk space, what are my operating costs? if a person sets up infront of their own home, what do the neigbors think? wallyworkswell@yahoo.com

    4. Chief says:

      More examples of the government picking and choosing winners. This practice needs to be stamped out wherever found on the basis that it destroys free markets. I particularly like the point made in the article that if a restaurant can't compete with a hot dog stand ran by a 13 year old, they should reevaluate their food or not be in business at all. We done Gavriel!

    5. MJF in CT says:

      Actually, if an established restaurant can't compete with a 13 year old's hot dog stand, maybe the "established" restaurant needs to think about fixing itself or close! It's called CAPITALISM! Just as in Nature, on y the strong (best) survive. The weak (under achievers, just-get-by'ers, loosers) do not survive. Just as the weak banks and auto makers who mismanaged themselves should have been forced to close or be taken over, the same applies to small business. If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen.

      The only problem that this young man had was the name "Nathan's Hot Dogs". The real Nathans may have had a problem with the name but that is easy to fix, too.

    6. Bobbie says:

      look at the time government abuse takes away from people who aren't paid by the hour, just to fill government make work. For what purpose? Power and control. We'd plan a day of selling kool aid without needing government permission. No costly permits. No rules or regulations that wasn't the kool aid stand and mom's. Cops would stop and buy a cup! This should be especially prominent today! It helps develop insight, it builds confidence and logic and the younger the start the likely success! Government doesn't want that so they take cuts from everywhere people were once free to govern their own! Please stop the tyranny! America doesn't want their money going to that! These government abusers can find a more fulfilling job in the private sector where they'll have some dignity and they'll take criticism for what their paycheck is worth!

    7. Chicago Ray says:

      This government is beyond 'out of control' and has long been in the 'too big to not fail' category for some time now…

    8. Leon Lundquist says:

      I would like to see a Class Action Lawsuit with millions of young Americans suing the various governments for all their Over Regulation activities. Sure one lemonade stand vendor cannot win, but I think the Damages would be established sufficient to force Local Governments to quit breaking our spirits with Over Regulation. Truth is the unconstitutional laws stand until they are challenged. Yeah, we presume them to be Constitutional but they are not. They have never been challenged. The collective governments have been going after Americans for a very long time now and there are millions of victims of Government Over Reach. We hear about a few lemonade stands closed but there are actually thousands of them. Millions of Americans have been ground down in one way or another. We have to prove the Damages! Yeah! But we have to List The Damages first. There is a lot of damage!

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