No Mistletoe Sales without a Permit – The Madison Root Story

Madison Root and her MistletoeAnother major news story just came down the pipe and I can’t stop myself from writing a blog even though it’s past my bedtime (10:00 p.m.).

Young Madison Root decided to set up shop in a Saturday Market in Portland, Oregon. She was selling her hand-picked mistletoe in the hopes of getting enough money to pay for her braces. She was told to pack her entrepreneurial spirit up and go home, she had no permit.

Judging by the comments I’m reading below the story most people think she was badly wronged. That she should be allowed to sell her wares in a public market. If beggars are allowed to beg why shouldn’t an adorable little eleven year old girl be allowed to sell her lovingly picked mistletoe?

Well, call me Dr. Curmudgeon (I didn’t spend four years in Curmudgeon school to be called Mr. Curmudgeon) but I think the security guards at the market did absolutely the right thing.

When the Girl Scouts setup their racketeering operation (you heard me right) at the local supermarket I’m quite confident they’ve done all the paperwork necessary to be there. The same for the Salvation Army and the Fire Department with their boots. I don’t like it, I don’t want to be disturbed and hit up for money when I’m tired and hungry but I put up with it because I know they’ve followed the rules.

Do we want unlicensed stands at every corner? Do we want anarchy? Do we Madison!? Well, do we?

I hate to be the bad guy (not really) but I don’t want an army of cute girls selling me bracelets, mistletoe, cookies, or anything else. If you need permission to set up shop in a market then go to the trouble of getting permission. Don’t just show up and go whining to the local television station about how unfair is life.

There are reasons we need permits to hawk our wares in markets. Legitimate vendors who go to the trouble of getting permission to sell their goods should not have to deal with some Madison-come lately who steals their business.

Call me what you will in the comments, I can take it!

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Next Release: The Broken Throne

13 thoughts on “No Mistletoe Sales without a Permit – The Madison Root Story

  1. I was with you until I read the article. She was told she couldn’t sell it. Fine. Then she was told she couldn’t give it away and just accept donations, again fine. She was then told she could just beg for money. It seems begging is a protected form of free speech. I would much rather have someone hand out mistletoe for a donation then get asked for money just because. If I had been one of the vendors I would have let her sell it out of my stall. Had I been her father I would have gotten permission.

      • You have mistakenly given credence to the government’s legitimacy in forcing a person to have a permit for this sort of action to begin with Tom. In fact, the point that you made of the Girl Scout’s requirement to have a permit at a local supermarket (a private business) is a sense of false legitimacy. If I own a business and I have decided that I would like to have Madison, or the Salvation Army, or anyone else to set up shop within the confines of my business, then that should be my right outside of any form of governmental interference or regulations. I realize that there are “laws”, but these so called laws, which should be for the protection of individuals, are nothing more that an extortion operation by the government. So ask yourself a simple question, Tom: How do these laws protect the freedoms or safety of individuals?

        • Hi Mark,

          Thanks for the comment.

          As to the girl scout question. I didn’t write they needed a permit. I wrote they needed to get permission. I think we’re on the same page as far as that goes.

          As to the need to have a permit to make sales I don’t think this was because the government insisted on it, it was because consumers and people who lived in those areas didn’t want street vendors selling wares without at least some sort of verification as to their goods. That this government intervention was at the behest of The People.

          I think laws requiring vendors to have followed certain safety regulations clearly protect my safety. Do you want any stranger selling goods to your children at your corner? If anyone is allowed to sell wares at the corner my street becomes a nightmare. Zoning laws follow the same principles.

          These laws often become little fiefdoms for government officials to make money, this I do not dispute, the basic idea is that The People have asked for regulation to protect us from a nuisance or even real danger. When a permit is turned into a financial windfall for the government I’m with you, Mark. However, I think these permits serve legitimate safety and nuisance concerns. A little oversight from we The People is always welcome.

          Thanks again for the comment and come back any time.


  2. Hello, Tom:

    Clearly, when you stated “I’m quite confident they’ve done all the paperwork necessary to be there”, the comment certainly implied that the “paperwork” is not one of permission, but rather one of regulation; but I am glad that you see my point, nonetheless.

    The issue with certain regulations being needed for the “safety” of The People, certainly I can agree with. But what happened to simple common sense? Laws are not absolute in that they have need of interpretation. We count on our government officials and the courts to deliver such common sense; It is hard to believe that what Madison was doing here was even possibly “unsafe”. Furthermore, and in regard to the comment about “stealing business”, which of course, is a legal issue, “Madison come lately’s” are what has always promoted free-market capitalism and are needed in order to drive the prices of products down and the quality up. Although, certainly, Madison more than likely didn’t have any competition in the mistletoe business regardless. Competition is certainly not theft.

    Free market principles will certainly allow for most such situations to rectify themselves outside of governmental interference. I will argue that organizations such as the Salvation Army actually enhance the well-meaning intentions of the business that allows them to act else the organizations would not allow them to “st up shop” within the boundaries of their properties. Madison was not an affront to the area in which she was attempting to do business or else we would see The People acting against her, not for her. Indeed, The People have spoken against the very governmental intrusions which you claim have been endorsed by them and passed through their will (which are more than not actually passed under the noses of an uninformed electorate; that is definitely the fault of the people).

    A little common sense would have been all that was necessary in Madison’s case. Interestingly enough, Madison might just not only be able to pay for her braces, but her college as well.


    • Hi Mark,

      My necessary paperwork comment was intended to imply whatever was required, be it simple permission or more complex work. But, as you say, we agree.

      As to Madison, I do think common sense is useful but I don’t think it’s difficult to imagine that if Madison was allowed to continue, that next Saturday at the Market there would have been trouble. That all sorts of people could be expected to show up and some of these might even have mayhem in mind.

      One of the reasons we have these regulations is to prevent someone who wants to poison people from having a one-day presence at a market. I understand that’s extreme but the idea is sound. We, The People, don’t want unregulated markets and corner stands at every market and corner. The reason the Permits must be acquired is that we asked the government to require them.

      While we might trust Madison to have our interests at heart we certainly cannot trust that everyone does. That’s the point.

      As to the “stealing” business. The person who doesn’t get the permit, who hasn’t gone through the necessary effort has less expense and can, in fact, steal from competitors. I love competition but people need to play by the same rules.

      Does the government twist those rules and play favorites? Yes. Does the government have its hands in way too many things? Yes. Does the government subvert the people’s will? Yes.

      However, the government still has a role in society. We’ve asked it, for good reasons, to prevent just anyone from selling things in a public place.

      In this case, Madison didn’t have the required permit. She should have been directed to how to get such a permit and asked to return the next Saturday.

      That’s my common sense.


      • You make many good points here, Tom, and given the overall similarity of “where we are coming from”, I would have to say that we could actually argue within the halls pf Congress without getting too mean about it all!

        This being said, I really enjoyed your article on American Exceptionalism!


      • You have made many credible and valid points here, Tom, and given the overall aspect of our viewpoints, I believe that we could actually debate in the Halls of Congress without getting mean about it!

        BTW, I really enjoyed your article on American Exceptionalism!


        • I was thinking the same thing. Reasonable voices having a reasonable discussion. I think we’d actually end pretty close to the same position.

          Thanks again for all the comments. I’m happy to hear dissent.

          What’s interesting is that I actually spent some time thinking through how to phrase “Necessary Paperwork”.

          My original idea of getting a permit was clearly wrong (as you pointed out) but asking for permission almost indicated too easy a process.

          I ended up with the paperwork phrasing which clearly was not as clear as I hoped.


  3. Pingback: GO Madison!!! Great Entrepreneurial Spirit | Home Grown News Media

  4. You forgot to mention her family is LOADED with money, runs a very successful business, and this was a scheme from day one for media attention.

    • If they are indeed “loaded” as you state (and from where you are getting that bit of information, I do not know), then they have taught Madison how she can learn to be “loaded” as well. I don;t see how that could necessarily be a “bad” thing. Insomuch as the “scheme” is concerned, I would like to know how you can know the intentions of another. If you do indeed have this ability, please teach the rest of us how you are able to do this such that we can all become “loaded” as well. There could be a LOT of money in such an ability to truly read the mind of another.


    • Thank you for the comment, Anonymous.

      I don’t know that the financial status of the family has any relevance to the issue. I also find it difficult to believe that Madison was part of some scheme to get publicity. I might not have access to this information but I’m telling you what I know from what I have read.

      I do think the father was out-of-line to go to the press with the story. As I’ve stated, I think the best resolution would have been for the market to explain the procedure for getting a permit and for Madison, with help from her father, to have then done so.

      Please come back and comment any time!


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