The Oval: Bake Sale Blues

Good afternoon.

My fellow Americans, today, the youth unemployment rate is at 25 percent.

Many young Americans, graduating from high school or college, are returning to live at home, because they can’t get a job.

Employers report that they are having a hard time filling open jobs because young adults don’t have the skills they need.

They report that many recent hires require significant training, just to get them ready to work. Show up on time. Learn from mistakes. Be more productive. Skills that any worker needs to know – but today’s young adults still don’t know.

What is the government’s response to all this?

What emergency action is the government taking to immerse our kids in the world of work… and get them ready to participate in our economy?

Create incentives for employers to set up apprenticeship programs?


Force schools to focus on labor market skills?


Strengthen after-school programs so students can work closely with entrepreneurs?

Again…. No.

We are seeing instead a different government approach.

The government is sending out armies of enforcement officers, to shut down lemonade stands and bake sales.

Yup, you heard that right.

Kids setting out tables, selling lemonade to raise money for charity… or for a school trip… or just for the fun of it… are being shut down.

In Massachusetts, they banned bake sales at school during the day and are working on banning them in the evening, too. Last time I checked, these bake sales helped put uniforms on student athletes, paid for textbooks, and taught kids the value of hard work.

In Appleton, Wisconsin, 9-year-old Lydia Coenen and her sister Vivian run a lemonade stand during the local Car Show. It wasn’t a big money-maker. Four kids would make $100 between them. Well, the vendors inside the car show complained. They didn’t want to compete with a bunch of cute kids. So what did the city council do? They banned the kids from selling lemonade.

Midway Georgia wanted to charge Kasity Dixon, 14, Tiffany Cassin, 12, and Skylar Roberts, 10, $50 for a permit to sell lemonade.

Coralville, Iowa shut down a lemonade stand run by 4-year-old Abigail Krutsinger. FOUR YEARS OLD.

In Hazlewood, Missouri, they banned two young girl scouts from selling Girl Scout cookies from their front yard. Why? A city law bans the “sale of commodities” from a home. So I guess Girl Scout cookies are like pork belly futures and rolls of copper.

I could go on and on. And you know, when we see these stories, we see the same thing. Public outcry. Elected officials try to explain. Public still upset. But in the end, the elected officials and city managers stick to their guns. So, no lemonade stands. No bake sales. No Girl Scout cookies. And we just move on.

But I wonder.

What are American kids learning about work… and entrepreneurship… and the leering power of government?

What are we teaching our kids?

Here is what I fear:

Our kids are learning, first of all, that if you want to make money, you need permission from the government. So they’re learning to be passive.

Our kids are learning, second, that if you want to make money, you need to pay powerful people first. So they’re learning about coercion and bribery.

Our kids are learning, third, that if you want to make money, you need to have money. So they’re learning about oligopolies.

Our kids are learning, fourth, that if you want to have a business, don’t let your neighbors and friends see you trying. They might call the cops! So they’re learning about rent seeking and NIMBYism.

These are terrible lessons to learn at any age.

And now we see the effects.

We have a generation of young Americans who have been raised to be passive. Powerless. To stand silent and mute at the mercy of the all-powerful government.

And so why are we surprised that when they graduate from school and enter the workforce, they are utterly unprepared? Why is it that when they have to show initiative… innovation… hard work… commitment… they can’t?

Look at what we teach them when they try. We shut down their bake sales. Lemonade stands. Girl Scout cookie tables.

We don’t give our kids a chance to learn how to work. How to sell. How to invent. We just don’t. We actually try to drum it out of them at a young age.

I’m not suggesting that we push our kids into work at a young age. They should be learning. Having fun. Opening up their minds.

But isn’t that what having a lemonade stand is? A lemonade stand is not going to be a big corporation, spoiling the environment. It’s not going to put some big lemonade company out of business. It won’t ship jobs overseas.

It’s fun. It’s about learning. It’s about just trying something new. It’s what kids do.

But I wonder. Maybe by putting these kids out of business…we are teaching them a lesson they need to know.

I mean, think about it: Aren’t business leaders around the country complaining about how hard it is to deal with the government these days? Aren’t they afraid of the power of government litigation and regulation… the risk that one day, a man in a suit with a government badge will just shut them down? Didn’t a government official just recently brag about how he “crucifies” businesses, just to set an example?

So maybe shutting down lemonade stands IS a good idea.

Maybe, just maybe, we are preparing our kids for the real world after all.

Or maybe, we’ve just lost our way. Maybe we could stop this.

On June 13, join me and get out there and put out a lemonade stand. Hold a bake sale. Do it with your kids. Let your kids take charge. If you can’t do it yourself, go and support someone who does. It’s important. We don’t have to let our kids learn all the wrong lessons about what it means to be free. We can be better than this.

Thanks for watching. May God bless you, and may God bless the Republic.



This was one of the first homesteads in the area in the 1880's and was just begging to be brought back to its original glory — with a touch of modern. When we first purchased the property, it was full of old stuff without any running water, central heat or AC, so needless to say, we had a huge project ahead of us. It took some vision and a whole lot of trust, but the mess we started with seven years ago is now a place we hope the original owners would be proud of.

To restore something like this is really does take a village. It doesn't take much money to make it cozy inside, if like me you are willing to take time and gather things here and there from thrift shops and little antique shops in the middle of nowhere.

But finding the right craftsman is a different story.

Matt Jensen and his assistant Rob did this entire job from sketches I made. Because he built this in his off hours it took just over a year, but so worth the wait. It wasn't easy as it was 18"out of square. He had to build around that as the entire thing we felt would collapse. Matt just reinforced the structure and we love its imperfections.

Here are a few pictures of the process and the transformation from where we started to where we are now:

​How it was

It doesn't look like much yet, but just you wait and see!

By request a photo tour of the restored cabin. I start doing the interior design in earnest tomorrow after the show, but all of the construction guys are now done. So I mopped the floors, washed the sheets, some friends helped by washing the windows. And now the unofficial / official tour.

The Property

The views are absolutely stunning and completely peaceful.

The Hong Kong protesters flocking to the streets in opposition to the Chinese government have a new symbol to display their defiance: the Stars and Stripes. Upset over the looming threat to their freedom, the American flag symbolizes everything they cherish and are fighting to preserve.

But it seems our president isn't returning the love.

Trump recently doubled down on the United States' indifference to the conflict, after initially commenting that whatever happens is between Hong Kong and China alone. But he's wrong — what happens is crucial in spreading the liberal values that America wants to accompany us on the world stage. After all, "America First" doesn't mean merely focusing on our own domestic problems. It means supporting liberal democracy everywhere.

The protests have been raging on the streets since April, when the government of Hong Kong proposed an extradition bill that would have allowed them to send accused criminals to be tried in mainland China. Of course, when dealing with a communist regime, that's a terrifying prospect — and one that threatens the judicial independence of the city. Thankfully, the protesters succeeded in getting Hong Kong's leaders to suspend the bill from consideration. But everyone knew that the bill was a blatant attempt by the Chinese government to encroach on Hong Kong's autonomy. And now Hong Kong's people are demanding full-on democratic reforms to halt any similar moves in the future.

After a generation under the "one country, two systems" policy, the people of Hong Kong are accustomed to much greater political and economic freedom relative to the rest of China. For the protesters, it's about more than a single bill. Resisting Xi Jinping and the Communist Party means the survival of a liberal democracy within distance of China's totalitarian grasp — a goal that should be shared by the United States. Instead, President Trump has retreated to his administration's flawed "America First" mindset.

This is an ideal opportunity for the United States to assert our strength by supporting democratic values abroad. In his inaugural address, Trump said he wanted "friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world" while "understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their interests first." But at what point is respecting sovereignty enabling dictatorships? American interests are shaped by the principles of our founding: political freedom, free markets, and human rights. Conversely, the interests of China's Communist Party are the exact opposite. When these values come into conflict, as they have in Hong Kong, it's our responsibility to take a stand for freedom — even if those who need it aren't within our country's borders.

Of course, that's not a call for military action. Putting pressure on Hong Kong is a matter of rhetoric and positioning — vital tenets of effective diplomacy. When it comes to heavy-handed world powers, it's an approach that can really work. When the Solidarity movement began organizing against communism in Poland, President Reagan openly condemned the Soviet military's imposition of martial law. His administration's support for the pro-democracy movement helped the Polish people gain liberal reforms from the Soviet regime. Similarly, President Trump doesn't need to be overly cautious about retribution from Xi Jinping and the Chinese government. Open, strong support for democracy in Hong Kong not only advances America's governing principles, but also weakens China's brand of authoritarianism.

After creating a commission to study the role of human rights in U.S. foreign policy, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote last month that the principles of our Constitution are central "not only to Americans," but to the rest of the world. He was right — putting "America First" means being the first advocate for freedom across the globe. Nothing shows the strength of our country more than when, in crucial moments of their own history, other nations find inspiration in our flag.

Let's join the people of Hong Kong in their defiance of tyranny.

Matt Liles is a writer and Young Voices contributor from Austin, Texas.

Summer is ending and fall is in the air. Before you know it, Christmas will be here, a time when much of the world unites to celebrate the love of family, the generosity of the human spirit, and the birth of the Christ-child in Bethlehem.

For one night only at the Kingsbury Hall in Salt Lake City, on December 7th, join internationally-acclaimed radio host and storyteller Glenn Beck as he walks you through tales of Christmas in the way that only he can. There will be laughs, and there might be a few tears. But at the end of the night, you'll leave with a warm feeling in your heart and a smile on your face.

Reconnect to the true spirit of Christmas with Glenn Beck, in a storytelling tour de force that you won't soon forget.

Get tickets and learn more about the event here.

The general sale period will be Friday, August 16 at 10:00 AM MDT. Stay tuned to for updates. We look forward to sharing in the Christmas spirit with you!