- - Thursday, December 12, 2013

Eleven-year-old Madison Root is an example of what’s right with America, and her story is an example of everything that’s wrong with America.

Madison is a sixth-grader in Portland, Ore., who wanted to help her parents. She felt guilty about the big bill from the orthodontist who put braces on her teeth. In tune with the holiday spirit, she gathered fresh mistletoe from her family’s farm and took it to a local farmers market, hoping to pay for her braces. Mistletoe was just what Christmas shoppers were looking for, and then an officious “security” guard showed up.

The Portland municipal code says a permit or lease agreement is required to “display goods, or descriptions or depictions of goods or services, with the intent to engage any member of the public in a transaction for the sale of any good or service” in a park. Applying for a vending booth requires paying fees and going through a series of bureaucratic committee reviews to determine whether such good or service is “an asset to the market, aesthetically and/or economically.” Madison was told to put her stock of mistletoe away. She was not allowed to solicit for profit. The guard told her she could stay and panhandle instead.

In Portland, begging is regarded as free speech protected by the Constitution, but commercial speech is not worthy of protection. Madison, wise beyond her tender years, understands this makes no sense. “What made me so mad was that he said I could beg,” she told Fox News, “but I couldn’t work hard and sell. What has society come to, teaching kids that it’s OK to beg instead of working hard to sell?”

We live in a world where politicians like those in Portland practice Santa Claus economics. They teach the people to expect “free stuff” as though it comes from magical elves in a faraway land, rather than from the hard work of the people who pay the taxes. Obamacare is a perfect example. Americans were told the law would reduce costs, lower insurance rates, reduce budget deficits and provide better care. Everyone would win, and no one would lose. Millions of Americans are learning otherwise. One Californian told The Los Angeles Times: “I was all for Obamacare, until I found out I was paying for it.” Someone always does. The young and the healthy will subsidize the care of the old and sick. Yes, Virginia, there is no Obamaclaus.

Rather than expect freebies from the government, some, like Madison Root, want to work for what they get. This smart little girl’s drive to do the right thing has struck a nerve with the American people. Radio host Glenn Beck offered to put Madison’s mistletoe on his website, and within a few hours, she had sold more than she could have in a year at the market.

Madison’s mistake was that she chose to sell the wrong plant. Portland encourages approved dispensaries to peddle “medical” marijuana, but makes selling mistletoe without permission a serious offense. We applaud Madison Root’s initiative, gumption and ambition. America needs more Madisons and fewer government grinches. Perhaps, in a few years’ time, she will run for the city council and teach them a thing or two. We hope so.