Keyshawn Anderson was doing a good deed. Dropped off by his foster dad to shovel Grandma's walk, he was doing what numerous kids have done for as long as anyone can remember: help out grandma when it snows.
But, in Normandy, Missouri, the police showed up and warned Anderson because he didn't have a permit.
To shovel snow.
For his grandmother.
Let that sink in. I'm all in favor of licensing for things that can cause other people harm. I'm glad that my doctor has degrees and has passed licensing exams. But, to shovel snow?
We've reached peak ridiculousness.
Normandy police say there's a reason why they're requiring people who want to offer shoveling services to have permits.
Sgt. Tameika Sanders says they started enforcing Normandy's and Pasadena Hills' soliciting ordinance this week.
She says over the weekend, they received a number of calls from residents concerned about groups of teens pretending to offer shoveling services.
Can we all agree that someone with a shovel in hand, who is moving snow off the sidewalks, isn't pretending to do anything? That he's actually doing it?
And if you're concerned that the person who knocks on your door and offers to shovel your snow for $10 won't actually do it, either say "no thanks!" or pay them when the job is complete.
I was always grateful when a teenage boy (and it's always been a boy) showed up at my doorstep, shovel in hand. While I'm capable of shoveling my own snow, I'm more than happy to pay someone to do it.
The last thing I want to do is discourage a tween or teen from earning money doing hard work. And even though the permits are free, they require a trip to city hall to get one. That is a deterrent right there.
Snow shoveling isn't the only thing that requires permits and licenses.
Hair braiders have to go to cosmetology schools and pass licensing exams that don't even teach them how to braid hair.
The number of jobs that require licenses has increased dramatically since 1950, when only 5 percent of jobs required licenses. Today 23 percent do. It's a ridiculous overreach.
And, if you add to that, not all states have reciprocal licensing, so you can be licensed in state A, work for 20 years in that field and be a recognized expert, but if you move to another state, you have to retest. Ridiculous.
An employment attorney friend of mine was licensed in Pennsylvania and got a job in New Jersey, which meant she needed to pass the New Jersey Bar. The New Jersey Bar exam doesn't even cover employment law. What a waste of her time and money. She had to study up on family law, which comes in handy for her neighbors but not for her career.
We really need to step back and ask ourselves if permitting and licensure really protect the consumers or, instead, protect the people who already have jobs.
And, if we want society's children to grow up to be independent adults, we need to let them shovel snow, mow lawns, and babysit without requiring permits.