Of all the children of Shem, about the only identifiable group increasing in number are the Amish. It’s good that they are prolific and work hard. It’s not so good that they take advantage of what may be termed their “host culture”.
The first indication I had that the Amish were taking advantage appeared when I was a young Processing Officer at an Armed Forces Examining Station. Young Amish men showed up for their testing, even though they would never have to serve to defend their country.
Their education had limited their writing skills to the crude printing of big, crude, block letters. Many could barely read and write. Their lack of skills would make them virtually unemployable outside the Amish community. Their near-illiteracy was provided to intentionally lock them into a community in which some of them would prosper, but whose nation none of them would defend. It was not fair of them to turn their young people into wards of their culture.
The second indication that the Amish were taking advantage of their “English” neighbors was on a hot, summer day. Driving on an asphalt road, I came up on an Amish buggy. While waiting an opportunity to pass, it was obvious that it’s thin, steel-rimmed wheels were slicing into the asphalt like a hot knife across butter. Water, entering the cracks, would freeze-thaw all winter, further ruining the road.
A trail of horse-droppings (if one of us threw that much stuff on the road, we’d be arrested for littering) indicated that many, many Amish were using the road.
Suddenly, it hit me. “Since they don’t buy gasoline, they aren’t paying taxes to plow the snow or maintain the roads they use and destroy. That’s not right!”
The third indication that they were taking advantage of us was provided by a friend who owns a small wood fabricating company. She pays her employees over the minimum wage, provides the mandated Workers’ Compensation, pays the required Unemployment Insurance payments, makes Social Security contributions, obeys Child Labor Laws, and provides health insurance.
Her Amish competitors would call up her customers (using a neighbor’s phone), and reduce their prices until the customer agreed to buy from them. Since they had none of the costs above, and many had nearly free child labor, they could always undercut her prices, which were based on her legally mandated costs. If it were not for her ability to retain some specialty customers, her business and livelihood would have been destroyed.
Her story is multiplied throughout the rural America whose economies the Amish are intentionally exterminating. The usual businesses that occupied so many rural Americans are being destroyed by underpaid, unregulated Amish workers. In every Amish area, rural economies are being gutted as those who undermine them buy farm after farm after farm.
In construction, alone, crews of Amish carpenters have put countless tax-paying builders and contractors completely out of business. There is simply no way for any American employer to compete with those who do not have to follow the same rules.
Since they do not have to obey Child Labor Laws, Amish parents get a lot of free work in their various enterprises. A half-dozen extra young men on the farm or business at little, or no, hourly wage lets the patriarch take it comparatively easy while the children do most of the work. “Amish girls are no better than slaves.”, is how one close-hand observer described their endless labor. Without electricity, they live an Iron Age existence. Washing, cooking, and housecleaning take lots of hands to make up for their electricity-less existence. The children become unpaid servants to make their withdrawal from modernity possible.
As the Amish take over an area, they become far less friendly. Trespassing, usually to hunt and fish, is almost impossible to stop. They do not hunt for fun, but for meat, and are deadly serious about it. Landowners quickly learn how hard it is to keep these “friendly, law-abiding people” off their property.
It’s a mystery why taxing authorities leave them alone. Governments usually do not like free, rural societies. By giving preferential treatment to the Amish, they destroy businesses producing more taxable income. From puppy mills to roadside shops, and factories selling everything from produce to quilts and furniture, few, if any, taxes are collected. Record-keeping is minimal as they pile up ever more cash to buy ever more farms driven out of businesses by the very taxes the Amish don’t pay.
Amazingly, many Americans persist in admiring them, losing sight of the fact that they are a society of hitch-hikers. On the other hand, they are working hard and having lots of children. So, having them live under the umbrella of those who provide the armed forces that protect them is not automatically a bad thing.