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Move Over Lemonade Stands: Alabama Forces Kids to Pay for Licenses to Mow Lawns

First, they came for the lemonade stands but you said nothing because you prefer iced tea. But what will you do now that they are coming for the neighborhood kids trying to make some summer money by mowing lawns? Certainly not mow your own lawn, right? Lawmakers and professional lawn care services in a town in Alabama have teamed up to try to stack the deck by requiring a $110 fee to buy a license to mow a lawn.

"They'll say it's about safety or whatever. But how dare you do it. If you can't stand on your service and be competitive with the kid down the street, you're doing it wrong. This is the crony capitalism on a micro scale in Gardendale, Alabama," Doc Thompson said filling in for Glenn on radio Friday.

Licenses do have their place, especially in dangerous professions that require a certain degree of trust. Attorneys, yes please. Surgeons, you had better have one. Lawn mowing? Not so much.

Enjoy the complimentary clip or read the transcript for details.

DOC: Or what problem does it solve? That, to me, you should ask yourself when your lawmakers get together and say, hey, we're going to do this. We're going to pass this law. We do get this piece of legislation. You have to ask yourself how does it help or what problem does it solve? How does it make your life better? You have a legislature, it doesn't matter at the state level, federal level, it doesn't matter if it's your local town council. What is this doing to make my life better? And what problem does it solve?

If you ask that question, you'll realize that quite often, neither, so there must be some other motivation. That is usually it's making their life better because they're either getting money in their pocket, or they're getting more money for their coughers to make their job easier that they can go ahead and spend a bunch of money to get stuff to go away. Hey, it's Doc Thompson, Brad Staggs, Kris Cruz, and Kal.

Alabama passed an ordinance that requires teens to get a license if they want to mow lawns.

KRIS: What?

DOC: If you want to simply mow lawns, you have to get a license from the city.

KRIS: So as a 14, 16-year-old kid, I can't be, like, hey, can I mow your lawn, Mr. Thompson?

DOC: Well, you can do that as long as you get a license from the city first.

KRIS: And then officer Brad would be, like, hey, do you have a license?

DOC: Not only would officer Brad do that, they are already enforcing it. They've approached kids and demanded to see their license, and you will be fined if not. The license is $110.

KRIS: Well, there goes a kid's entire profit.

DOC: Am I right? Well, first of all, Kal our producer from our show, he doesn't understand mowing lawns. It's new to him. He relocated to Texas.

I get you don't want to pay for it. Kal recently relocated to Dallas and didn't know when you own a home that --

KRIS: Grass grew.

DOC: Grass grows, apparently. And you have to actually pay for.

KAL: No, I'm renting. You don't have to deal with landscape. Now I'm renting a house and responsible for landscaping.

DOC: So, Kal, you've been looking for lawn mowing services and what type of price range?

KAL: No, I want to spend ten bucks, tops.

DOC: No, that's what you want to spend. What do they want?

KAL: Anywhere from 30 to $60 front and backyard.

DOC: I was looking as well. Occasionally when I'm traveling or do different work, I don't do it in a week and it's around 30 to 50 for a regular.

BRAD: Wait a minute, you have a wife, why doesn't she do it?

DOC: Because she has a husband. That's how it works in my house. But what's the advantage of having a neighborhood kid do it that you don't pay 30 to $50? So what are you going to pay him? 15, 20 bucks to mow this or whatever. If it's $110, and you're making 20 bucks a lawn, you have to mow 5.5 lawns before you even break even on the license?

So I ask again. What good does this do? What problem does it solve?

KRIS: It solves this rogue kids out there --

DOC: Mowing lawns and unifying the city.

KRIS: Yeah, you can't have that.

BRAD: This was sponsored by all the lawn mowing services.

DOC: There it is. But what problem does it solve there?

BRAD: It gives them more opportunity. It gets rid of the competition.

DOC: But it doesn't solve the problem of everybody else in the city. How many people own lawn mowing services versus everybody else? I'm guessing it's less than 1 percent that would be supporting something like this. And this is not just about lawn mowing. This is everything. You see this with every business out there.

BRAD: Uber.

DOC: Right. Trying to protect themselves with this. When other lawn mowing services, dirtbags in Glendale, Alabama, if you own one and support this business license and the mayor and the town council, how dare you. How dare you say you want to enforce some piece of legislation to push your competition out of existence.

BRAD: We're going to keep the kids safe. You know, this lawn mowers, they throw rocks and stuff, and we can't have that happening to the kids.

DOC: That's the other angle. They'll say it's about safety or whatever. But how dare you do it. If you can't stand on your service and be competitive with the kid down the street, you're doing it wrong. This is the crony capitalism on a microscale in Glendale, Alabama -- sorry. Gardendale, Alabama.

BRAD: Which is close to Glendale.

DOC: It is. Like one town away.

KAL: Does the paperboy have to get a license? Girl Scout cookies?

BRAD: They already do.

KAL: You need a license to sell Girl Scout cookies?

BRAD: I'm pretty sure that you have to have a license.

KRIS: But it's handled by the troop.

DOC: So this helps a couple people in favor of everybody else. This is your priority. Something you think it's important. It's not just about the license. It's not just about the kid who has to pay and work all this extra hours. Where does the money go then? First of all, as we said, first of all, as Jeffy would say. First of all.

BRAD: Spirit of Jeffy.

DOC: To push these kids out of business, discourage it from the other people. Where does the money go then? To the city. So you need the money from the kids mowing lawns. And I don't care if it is only one kid mowing lawns or 1,000 kids mowing lawns out there, this is not good. You need the taxes in that town? This is your plan? Your big plan to pay for city services is we'll tax the kids mowing lawns. And let's go after that little bastard paperboy too. He made $14 last week.

BRAD: Next, they're going to start cracking down on lemonade stands.

DOC: We've seen that.

BRAD: Oh, wait. They did that a couple of years ago here in Texas.

KRIS: You have to get a food safety course in order to make lemonade.

DOC: Across the board, professional -- professional licenses. I can't believe I'm saying that when it comes to a kid mowing lawns. But that's in the vein of professional licensing. States, city. States have all kinds of crazy professional licensing rules.

BRAD: Hair braiding.

DOC: Some states you have to have a license to braid, some to cut hair. Some for interior decorating. Some to groom dogs.

BRAD: Locksmithing.

DOC: This is in the face of anything capitalism, capital I can of. Anything that's good. Competition is good. Free market is good. Professional licenses -- and I'm not even talking doctors or lawyers where you can say, hey, this is life altering if they screw this thing up or life ending. We're talking about things that are not dangerous.

BRAD: Right. But if you're going to be an interior decorator, you should be having a license.

KRIS: Is there something called feng shui?

DOC: Feng shui.

BRAD: Or feng shui. I think that's a small poodle from Asia.

DOC: In Puerto Rico, it's feng shui.

KRIS: Yeah.

DOC: It's used exclusively to keep people out. You have a group of people who is, hey, we went through this process, the experience, whatever it is. Built up our business, and now we're going to protect it by going to our legislatures using our power to try to legislate our competition out of business. Where what you should be saying with our experience and the business that we built up and everything else, we do it better and cheaper. Because if you cannot do it better and cheaper, you should fail. If you cannot be competitive on your own in a business without legislation, your business not only would fail, it should fail. It must fail. Our entire country is founded on that premise. That if you are not as good, it should fail in favor of something that is better. And, by the way, failure is a lesson. This stuff drives me up the wall.

KRIS: So I'm doing a couple research on professional.

DOC: What did she licensing?

KRIS: Mississippi already has a licensing for mowing lawns. But they call it the Mississippi state board of --

BRAD: Architecture. Let me help you.

KRIS: Thank you. And it says the mission is to protect the public's life, health, and property through the regulation of professions of --

DOC: Architecture.

KRIS: Thank you. Landscape and certification of interior design.

DOC: So they have it for interior design as well.

KRIS: Yes, but in order to be a landscaper, you have to have interior design.

DOC: Wouldn't it be exterior design?

BRAD: That's where feng shui comes in because your inside has to be balanced with outside.

DOC: Did you do odd jobs like mow lawns?

BRAD: Yeah, but we had to do it covertly.

DOC: Did you?

KRIS: Yeah, I was mowing lawns neighbors in Florida for, like, 10 bucks.

DOC: What am I asking? You're Hispanic. Of course you did it in Florida.

We went and did this stuff. That's what you do. We've got this notion that somehow these are -- it's like the fight for 15 crowd. That the McDonald's worker jobs are supposed to be careers and profession. Yes, there are people that do some of these services like mowing lawns as a business, and that's fine. You want to hire people, you don't, whatever. But most of the jobs are not supposed to be careers. You're not supposed to do this. No one is expecting you to go out and make a livable wage where you can raise six kids and put them through college while working at McDonald's four hours a day. It's not supposed to happen. A fundamental break down of this stuff. The mayor of Gardendale, Alabama said I would love to have something on our books that gave a more favorable response to that student out there cutting grass and see if there's maybe a temporary license during the summer months that targets teenagers as opposed to the whatever.

BRAD: That is the temporary license I think.

DOC: It is.

BRAD: It's the license.

DOC: Right it probably applies to the other services as well. The business owners or people out there.

BRAD: What good is it -- I mean, what purpose would the temporary license serve? Nothing.

KRIS: No, it just gets you a free pass.

DOC: Money for the city.

BRAD: Money for the city. Yeah.

DOC: And I guess it would discourage them a little bit. Would the temporary one be less money?

BRAD: It should be.

DOC: How embarrassing for this stand Hogland -- Hogland, and the other lawn-mowing services out there. One of the guys said if he saw the kids mowing without a license, he planned to call the cops on them.

KRIS: You have to be kidding me.

DOC: How embarrassing is this for you. Is everything else perfect in Gardendale, Alabama? Have you solved all other problems? This is your thing?

BRAD: This is what you're left with.

DOC: What about the cop out there? 1 Adam 12, 1 Adam 12. I see the man. I took him down, honey.

KRIS: You did. A big drug dealer; right?

DOC: Well, Bobby was mowing the lawn.

KRIS: Okay. And he had drugs on his lawn; right?

DOC: No, he didn't have a license.

KRIS: A license?

DOC: Yeah, he didn't have a license. I took that little son of a gun down.

KRIS: Sweetie, I'm proud of you. I'm really proud of you. One rogue kid that you take out.

RADIO

The Singularity? Elon Musk unveils plans to merge human brains with AI

Yesterday, while the rest of America obsessed over President Trump's tweets, Elon Musk announced plans to merge humans with computers using thread-like polymer electrodes implanted directly into the human brain. Musk said that Neuralink, his brain-AI interface startup, will allow humans to "achieve a symbiosis with artificial intelligence" as early as next year. Watch this clip to get more details.