Virginia’s own Frank Giaccio might be the most famous landscaper in the nation right now.
The eleven-year-old boy from Falls Church wrote a letter to the White House this summer about his fledgling lawn care service business. The lad even offered to waive his $8/hour fee if he could be granted permission to tend to the storied Rose Garden lawn.
“I would like to show the nation what young people like me are ready for,” Frank wrote to the President.
The boy did as he promised last week, mowing the White House lawn while President Trump walked alongside him. Most reporters dutifully reported the moment as a feel-good human interest story, which it was, but others couldn’t resist predictably partisan attacks.
New York Times contributor Steve Greenhouse whined on Twitter that the mowing gig wasn’t “sending a great signal on child labor, minimum wage & occupational safety.” And the Washington Post managed to frame the story with a headline inverting the boy’s dreams—“Trump lets an 11-year-old boy mow the White House lawn”
That petty partisan blowback misses something important about young Frank’s pluck. It’s precisely the kind of can-do spirit we should be celebrating when we see it in today’s youth. Too many teens spend their time playing video games, not producing anything of value.
The entrepreneurial spirit Frank displayed likely bodes well for his future—and for the country’s as well.
I once had a reporting assignment that involved interviewing millionaires about how they achieved their financial success. Each millionaire had made his or her money through their own hard work, not through an inheritance. They came from different backgrounds, and their careers were widely varied. But they did have one thing in common: they all started making money in their teens. Each millionaire had his or her own little business before they were old enough to drive, let alone vote. They didn’t wait for college to start their careers. Their entrepreneurial drive began in high school.
And they never stopped.
That discipline helped them succeed as adults.
Frank appears to be heading down a similar path. He watched his father keep up the family’s lawn before dad let him commandeer the mower and start his own business. He found customers by handing out fliers in his neighborhood, an early lesson in the power of marketing.
And Frank wasn’t satisfied with his usual earnings of twenty dollars per week, so he reached out to the White House in hopes of expanding his business.
One of the reasons we should celebrate Frank’s go-getter spirit is that it has become the exception rather than the rule for young people today. Fewer and fewer teens have part-time or summer jobs anymore; the number of teens who work during the summer months continues to fall, as NPR recently reported. This means they enter college and adulthood with little to no real-life work experience.
As Senator Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) noted in a recent opinion piece in The New York Times, the experience of working for pay when you’re young instills many virtues, not least an appreciation for the demands of physical labor. He recalled working in the fields detasseling corn in his Nebraska hometown, ending each day “covered in nasty rashes, caked in mud and bone-tired” yet with a feeling of having done a job well. Such back-breaking labor is something today’s teens fear more than their WiFi going out.
But a declining work ethic is a real problem for young adults—which is why we should embrace young role models like Frank Giaccio. As President Trump said of Frank, “We’re lucky. . .That’s the real future of the country.” Let’s hope so.
Image: Washington Post Video Capture