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Toy Farm Lemonade Means Business for Anti-Capitalist Rhetoric

By: Laurie Blair - @printsoflblair - May 13, 2015, 1:06 pm

EspañolA media personality, writer, co-founder of the Libertarian Party of Puerto Rico, and even a planner of a breakaway micro-nation from the US territory, Frank Worley-Lopez is nothing if not industrious — and industry is the key theme in his latest venture, a pro-business parable in the form of a children’s book, titled Toy Farm Lemonade.

Worley-Lopez — who also blogs for the PanAm Post — takes his battle with all things redistributive to the literary level, in the Animal Farm meets Atlas Shrugged tale of third grader Justin Dus Trius. Justin, from a supportive but low-income family, desperately wants enough money to buy the toys in his catalog, especially the prized model airplane.

Toy Farm Lemonade's Justin Trius turns his lemonade stand into a wealth-generating machine. (Flickr)
Toy Farm Lemonade‘s Justin Trius turns his lemonade stand into a wealth-generating machine. (Flickr)

With a little advice from his parents, and a loan from a kindly banker living across the street, he sets up a booming lemonade stand that lets him buy the things he wants, and plenty of extra toys for a local children’s hospital. But the politics of envy soon invades the suburban scene, as local kids demand that he buys them high-quality toys too.

Led by neighborhood bully Big Al, the 99 members of the Children’s Equal Toy Alliance (ChETA) camp out on the Trius’s front lawn, and hold marches and “cry-ins” until they get what they want. Finally, one morning, the precocious protesters arrive (spoiler alert) to find that the family — and the lemonade — are all gone.

Worley-Lopez writes in an engaging way, taking aim at the usual targets at regular occasions. He takes a jab at bureaucracy, as Justin goes through the red tape of getting a business permit for his wooden stand and begins paying taxes, despite not being old enough to drive a car or vote.

Media bias is also in for caricature, in the form of a reporter who frames Justin’s mother into saying that sweatshops are “a good thing.” When a local kid hits Justin’s stand with his bike, and demands that Justin pays for a new tire, his father tells him it’s “all part of owning a business.”

Of Lemons and Fascism

At other points, the author’s axe to grind with the Occupy movement means the analogies wear a bit thin. At one point, Big Al and his cronies brand Justin a “fascist” and a “supremacist,” perhaps terms learned from Al’s union boss dad, but still unlikely for an eight-year-old. In the usual tradition of children’s stories, the parents are somewhat two dimensional, even if their homilies on the importance of self-reliance and hard work are hard to argue with.

That said, Worley-Lopez’s target — and the “entitlement culture” that supposedly spawned it — might have a few ripostes to make. Justin, after all, benefits from inherited advantages: the interest-free credit and advice his parents give him to start out, the front yard which forms his premises, and the safe suburban environment in which he operates.

It’s great that Justin donates to the children’s hospital down the road, but should such institutions depend solely on the charity of infant citrus tycoons?

This reviewer is also looking forward to Toy Farm Lemonade II, which will see Justin engaged in a bitter labor dispute with the Mexican lemon growers that form the base of his supply chain.

Jokes aside, Toy Farm Lemonade provides an articulate, economical rendering of the author’s conservative-libertarian philosophy, which adherents and critics alike can get something out of. It’s all the more impressive that Worley-Lopez has produced it while simultaneously waging a one-man war on fiscal mismanagement in Puerto Rico.

And while the book is more aimed at adults than at children, political philosophy coded in children’s books seems to be all the rage these days: as Venezuelan schoolchildren, thumbing through their modified history books and illustrated Constitutions, where Chávez and Maduro feature more heavily than Simon Bolívar, can attest.

Laurie Blair Laurie Blair

Laurie is a British journalist currently based in Asunción, Paraguay. The English junior editor of the PanAm Post, he writes on domestic and international politics, economics, history, and human rights. He blogs at Man, the State, and More, and tweets @printsoflblair.