Lemonade would originally start out at twenty-five cents per cup. A large sign would advertise the price and anyone who was thirsty and had a quarter could purchase a cup of lemonade.
Some people eventually start showing up at the lemonade stands who are very thirsty but do not have any money. Politicians decide that this is not fair.
The government sets up a system where the neighbors living down the street pay for any of the lemonade that the poor customers cannot afford. They set the price at a dime per cup. For the lack of a better term, this government program is called “Lemon-aid.”
The lemonade stand operators begin to sell cheaper lemonade to the low-income customers but they soon realize that they are losing money on each customer because of the cost of the ingredients. They decide to continue to sell poor people lemonade for a dime but they begin to sell lemonade to everyone else for fifty cents per cup in order to make up the difference.
Poor people from all around the neighborhood find out about the “affordable” lemonade. They start coming around and ordering multiple cups. The lemonade stand operators increase prices on paying customers once again to make up the difference due to the increased volume of low-income customers. Due to the high volume of customers, the lemonade stand operators decide that they need to hire extra employees to help produce the lemonade. The cost of these new employees is added to the price of the lemonade.
Eventually, a few of the customers get very sick after drinking the lemonade. People believe that some of the lemonade was possibly contaminated. They sue the lemonade stand operators and each victim is awarded with ten-thousand dollars. People in the neighborhood hear of this news and other customers start falsely claiming that their lemonade was also contaminated in order to file their own lawsuits. The lemonade stand owners decide to purchase insurance as protection from future lawsuits. The cost of this insurance is passed on to the consumer through the price of the lemonade.
Politicians hear the news that multiple people are having issues with possible lemonade contamination. They require that all lemonade stand operators become licensed. These lemonade stand operators have to pass a test every seven years to prove that they still know how to make lemonade which is both safe and delicious. These tests costs one-thousand dollars each and the expense from these exams are then passed on to the consumer.
It is soon discovered that a few lemonade stand operators were billing “Lemon-aid” payments for lemonade that had not actually been sold. These lemonade stand operators are sent to jail on “Lemon-aid” fraud charges. Because of this, politicians decide that all lemonade stand operators need to provide extensive documentation for each cup of lemonade that is produced. Each document needs to have fourteen descriptive bullet points for each cup of lemonade sold or the lemonade stand operator will otherwise not be reimbursed.
Lemonade stand operators subsequently hire extra staff members to deal with required increased documentation of lemonade production. The costs of these new salaries are added to the cost of the lemonade. Lemonade stand operators tell the government that they can no longer afford to sell lemonade to low-income customers at just a dime per cup. The price of everyone’s lemonade begins to climb dramatically.
As prices continue to skyrocket, more and more people find that lemonade has simply become unaffordable. Some people buy lemonade insurance which will help them to purchase lemonade but only when they really get thirsty. Others simply go without lemonade. Prices become so high that lemonade stand operators remove all advertised pricing from their lemonade stands. Most customers have no idea what lemonade costs any longer because someone else is now paying for it.
The neighbors down the street are gradually becoming bankrupt while trying to pay for everyone else’s “Lemon-aid.” After maxing out all of their personal credit cards, they set up a counterfeiting ring with printing presses in their basements in order to be able to continue paying for everyone else’s expensive lemonade.
A new mayor named Barry O’Malley is elected during all of this lemonade chaos. Nobody knows how it happened, but somehow lemonade is over 50 dollars per cup. He promises real solutions to address the overwhelming price of lemonade. Mayor O’Malley ultimately decides that lemonade has now become too expensive because there is not enough oversight and government regulation. The community passes a law called the “Affordable Lemonade Act” but most people simply refer to it as O’Malleycare.
Laws go into place stating that everyone must purchase at least one-month worth of lemonade per year even if they don’t plan to come anywhere near a lemonade stand. The law also states that small cups of lemonade are now illegal. Everyone much purchase an extra-large 44-ounce cup of lemonade regardless of their individual thirst level. The government then plans to subsidize people who cannot afford these mandatory payments by providing these people with money from the neighbors down the street who are already broke. These mandatory payments are established on an insecure 200-million dollar government website which crashes every twenty seconds and retains no data.
Politicians also pass laws stating that each lemonade stand must purchase its own computer equipment in order to make all lemonade documentation electronic. Portals must be set up so that any customer can access a computer and see exactly how their lemonade was produced. Rules are established that ten-percent of all customers must be given “lemonade information handouts” which explains to them exactly how lemonade is made. Each lemonade stand is responsible for documenting how many information handouts were given to their customers. More people are hired to deal with all of the new rules and regulations. These costs are passed down to the cost of the lemonade.
Some of the older lemonade stand operators do not like the new rules and they decide to leave the lemonade making business for good. In order to save money, these experienced individuals are replaced with trained monkeys who wear tiny hats and are referred to as “lemonade stand assistants”. The original lemonade stand operators who remain are told that they have to produce lemonade twice as fast as they used to while keeping up with all of the new layers of documentation. Inexplicably, the quality of lemonade continues to decline while the price of lemonade continues to go up.
The citizens gradually become frustrated and turn their anger towards the lemonade stand operators themselves. They start referring to lemonade stand operators as “heartless” and “greedy money-grubbers.”
The people turn their attention to politicians who claim that government has not done enough to fix this problem.
They begin to believe that lemonade is a God-given right and that all lemonade should be free for everyone.
They still have not learned the very painful lesson that nothing is ever actually free in our complex and ever-evolving economy.
They still do not understand the important principle that government “help” eventually comes with a very steep cost.