Detroit Makes Lemons Out of Lemonade

Joshua Smith is obviously a caring young man. The 9-year-old Detroiter recently set up a lemonade stand in front of his house with the purpose of raising money.

For what purpose? A charity perhaps? A neighboring family down on their luck?

No. The city of Detroit. The actual municipality. The one with a $200 million budget deficit.

So far, Joshua has raised about $3,600, according to media reports, and presented the Detroit City Council with the first $2,800 last week. The council, rather than expressing shame and regret that city leaders’ fiscal irresponsibility would prompt Joshua into taking such actions, instead praised him and gave him a “Spirit of Detroit” award. Mayor Dave Bing, it should be noted, had the good graces to call Joshua at home and encourage him to save the money for college.

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It certainly wasn’t his intent, but Joshua has received other accolades, too: special guest at a Detroit Lions pre-season game, a visit from some University of Michigan basketball players, and a $2,000 college scholarship from the Rosa Parks Foundation. Delora Hall Tyler, president of the foundation, said the purpose of the scholarship is to recognize community involvement.

Sadly, in this case, “community involvement” means a kid trying to fix preventable problems created by adults. In general, boys Joshua's age should spend their summers playing baseball, pretending in front of their buddies that they don’t really like the girl down the street, or bugging their parents to let them see the newest Pixar movie. If they need to work, it should be to help their families or save for college. It’s unfortunate that the city that is supposed to be looking out for Joshua’s well-being has become, through its own fault, his charity case.

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