I am the teenager named "Joey" whose parents wrote to you about my wanting to join the Tea Party. I can't say I am happy with the response you gave them because it has been a very difficult six months for me, but I can see the point that they were trying to make. My Dad wanted me to write this letter to you so your readers can know how everything turned out with their "experiment" with me. It's just easier if I make a list, so here it is:
1. Do you have any idea how embarrassing it is to have to give up your iPhone for a Jitterbug phone? If nothing else, this taught me that I never, ever want to be so poor that I can't afford a normal phone. It is practically child abuse to make me use this thing!
2. Education is important and a high school education is free, so taking it for granted is stupid. I realize that not everyone can afford college, but doing well in high school can earn you scholarships so you don't end up doing tough jobs for low pay. My father paid me what he paid the landscaper to do our spring cleanup. It was the toughest $250 I ever made. I thought I was being underpaid and complained about it when he told me the landscaper has to pay his expenses out of that $250 (employees, gas for his truck and equipment, and dumping fees), and actually makes a lot less.
3. I don't want to be a landscaper. I applied for a summer job as one and was offered $9.00/hour to mow lawns and do garden cleanup. My day would start at 7AM and end when the sun went down. My only days off would be when it rained, and I would be an "independent contractor" which means I would have to pay all of my own taxes, even though I am only 16 and it would all be refunded anyway. My Dad told me that the cleaning lady works under a similar arrangement. I don't want to clean houses, either.
4. It is tough to find a job when you have no skills. I just turned 16 and got my working papers, only to find there is no work for me other than minimum wage fast food kind of stuff that I don't want. I was hoping someone in a trade would offer me on-the-job training but that didn't happen, even when I offered to work for free, after school, for two weeks to learn the basics. What is with people? I offered to work for FREE just to learn how to do the job!
5. It is impossible to live off of minimum wage. I have no idea how people manage to pay rent and buy food and own a good car if they have to live off of minimum wage. I still say it is an incentive to work harder so you don't have to earn minimum wage, which is why I am working harder in school and will be taking some Voc-Tech courses next year, so I can learn a trade in case college doesn't work out for me.
6. A helping-hand is not the same as a hand-out. I now understand why my parents give to the United Way, to help those who have less than us. I just wish they would demand that the money go into programs that offer job training and adult education instead of hand-outs.
I still believe in the Tea Party, but I have learned that many of the people who support it would not have all that they have if they had not been given a privileged start when they were young. I also realize that they would not have gotten as far as they have if they made stupid mistakes like Levi Johnston, and that Bristol Palin is a lot luckier than most teen Moms. I still say people need to own their actions, which is what the Tea Party is all about, but I can see the other side of things now, too. People need to remember that people like Herman Cain are Tea Party members, and that we are not all bad; we just want people to live by the standards that made America great.
I thank you very, very much for writing to me and sharing the lessons you have learned with my readers, many of whom have asked for a follow-up to your parents' story. It sounds to me that you have learned some valuable lessons about how the real world works. It is my hope that these lessons are not soon forgotten, and that they serve as a guide in how you live your life as well as how you treat others. I would ask that you work to practice what you preach in all areas of your life, lest you fall back into the hypocritical behaviors that brought about the need for this experiment, with you as the guinea pig.
You ask "what is wrong with people?" that they were not willing to train you in a job, even after you offered to work for free for a part-time, two-week training period. The fact of the matter is, even with you working for free, your training would be costing the company time and money; therefore, it is more economical for them to hire someone who is already trained. There are many job-force training programs available - however, they are generally sponsored by unions; which are organizations that the Tea Party works against.
As for your experience in lawn-care and your lack of desire to become a landscaper or home cleaning professional you must remember that the people who do these jobs generally enjoy them, and get paid very well to do them. Many landscapers are college educated, with degrees in Agriculture, Botany, or Environmental Science. Do not assume that these are the jobs of the unskilled or under-educated. There is no shame in having dirt under your fingernails if it was put there by hard work.
Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.