We live in an era where entrepreneurship is under attack. And while this might seem like a small problem when you look at all the other problems we are currently facing, the truth of the matter is, without the entrepreneur the very fabric of our society would break down.
The freedom to freely exchange with one another is what originally set America apart from all the others. In fact, entrepreneurship is the very foundation on which the American dream was built. At the very core of our society rests this belief that by taking risks and creating value, you can rise above your circumstances and become anything you want to be. It doesn’t matter what status you were born into or how much education your parents completed. Through value creation, you can become the master of your own fate.
It is for this reason that we look to people like John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, and Henry Ford as beacons of success. They were innovators who solved consumer problems and used the market to change their stars. But now, instead of encouraging the next generation of entrepreneurs, we are squashing their dreams with the hand of the state.
By now, most everyone has heard of “Permit Patty.” But for anyone who has managed to avoid the outrageous news, Alison Ettel, AKA Permit Patty, is a woman who is currently under fire for calling the police on an eight-year-old entrepreneur whose only crime was selling water without a license.
Like most eight-year-olds, Jordan Rogers had dreams of going to Disneyland. But since her mother had just recently lost her job, taking an expensive trip from San Francisco to Southern California was out of the question. And yet, Rogers was determined to do what she could to make her dream become a reality.
Since Rogers and her mother, Erin Austin, live in close proximity to AT&T Park where the San Francisco Giants play, she decided to earn money by selling water to passersby on their way to the park. Purchasing water in bulk, she stood on her own property and advertised her ice cold water.
Unfortunately, it was her advertising that first caught the attention of Ettle. Ettle claims that while trying to work in her apartment, she was distracted by loud screams coming from outside. The yelling, Ettle claims, lasted for hours which led her to walk outside and see what was going on. Upon seeing eight-year-old Rogers selling water, Ettle asked the girl to stop. When the girl said no, Ettle threatened to call the cops.
Taken aback that a grown woman would threaten her child over something so silly, Austin took out her phone and began filming as soon as “Permit Patty” made the 911 call. The video, which has since gone viral, shows “Patty” trying to hide from Austin’s camera whilst shouting that Rogers’ actions were illegal, which she believes justified her actions.
The Real Problem
In the era of social media, it isn’t hard for these types of videos to go viral, which is exactly what happened in this instance. For almost a week, the entire internet has been buzzing about “Permit Patty” and her egregious acts. And as the video of the altercation continued to make its way around the internet, Ettle was forced to resign as CEO of her company due to all the negative backlash.
And while this tattletale culture is problematic, there is a bigger issue at stake: the war on entrepreneurs.
Over the last several years, the state has begun to crack down on child entrepreneurs. It’s hard to imagine armed police officers coming to harass young children about not having a license for their neighborhood lemonade stand, but that is exactly the situation we find ourselves in today. The problem is so widespread, it has even led to Country Time Lemonade launching a new program to help children whose entrepreneurial efforts have resulted in government permits.
There are too many “Permit Patty’s” in the country right now, and it is discouraging the next generation of entrepreneurs. If children are scared to take risks because they fear they may have to deal with police officers, then we have most certainly veered from our country’s original emphasis on the entrepreneur.
All young Rogers wanted was the ability to change her circumstances. She wasn’t asking anyone to fund her trip to Disneyland, all she wanted was the ability to raise the funds for herself. Luckily, this story has a happy ending.
After hearing Rogers’ story, Musician Jonathan Brannon purchased Disneyland tickets for both Rogers and her mother.