Don’t cut down this kid

Boy’s White House lawnmowing job draws needlessly sour response

Frank Giaccio snagged a lawn-mowing client he won’t soon forget.

 

And the experience couldn’t even be dampened by a spoilsport writer.

Frank, an 11-year-old boy from Falls Church, Va., pockets about $20 a week mowing lawns for his neighbors. Recently he wrote President Trump, offering his services to mow the White House lawn. He told the president that “I would like to show the nation what young people like me are ready for.”

And the president said yes.

So on Friday, Frank became the most famous groundskeeper in America. Trump himself visited the lawn during the work shift to congratulate Frank, who by all accounts did a superb job.

A kid mowing a lawn is right up there with the homemade lemonade stand as a classic symbol of young, American entrepreneurial spirit. It teaches hard work and responsibility — two traits all young people should acquaint themselves with. What’s not to like?

Ask Steven Greenhouse. The former labor writer for The New York Times tweeted this assessment: “Not sending a great signal on child labor, minimum wage &occupational safety >> Trump White House lets a 10-year-old volunteer mow its lawn.”

Frank was 10 when he wrote the letter but turned 11 by the time he mowed, but that’s beside the point. This clearly was the most exciting moment of this boy’s young life, and an adult went out of his way to shove the whole experience under a dark cloud.

“The sanctimonious and humorless finger-wagging of nanny state progressivism in one tweet,” conservative commentator Bill Kristol tweeted in response.

It should be noted that Frank’s work was under the supervision of the National Park Service, which typically sees to the White House’s lawn care. Frank even used Park Service equipment. Frank likely was under better supervision Friday than he is when he mows lawns in his own neighborhood.

Safety definitely should be paramount when a young person operates machinery such a lawn mower. Maybe that’s why Frank was wearing safety goggles, earplugs and work gloves. Combine that with his close supervision and you can scratch the “occupational safety” argument.

As to the “child labor” complaint, we took an informal poll around our office and discovered other people who began mowing lawns at about Frank’s age. It’s not uncommon. The job often is a rite of passage for kids his age as they enter the world of work. Pacific Rim sweatshops exploit child labor. Voluntarily mowing lawns doesn’t.

And “minimum wage”? Frank volunteered to mow the grass for free.

Greenhouse tried to defend his point by posting a link to a study finding that 13 children visit the emergency room daily because of lawn mower injuries.

It defends his point poorly. The study defines “children” as kids up to age 17, and it reveals that often the kids who are injured aren’t even the ones mowing.

To take his argument further, by one estimate about 7,000 people visit the ER each day because of auto accidents. Should we stop driving cars? Or simply drive more safely?

There was nothing in Frank’s actions or demeanor to suggest that he’s reckless when he’s behind a mower. He’s safe. He’s responsible.

And one writer’s sour assessment of Frank’s fun day on the White House lawn says more about the writer than it does about workplace safety.

 

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