Do the Amish pay taxes?

Cross post (and slightly disgusting…)

What do you call an Amish with his hand up a horse’s rear-end?

A mechanic!

I don’t know much about how traffic laws work in various states, but I seem to recall hearing about people having been pulled over for driving too slow. If the Amish (or whoever) are allowed to drive on a road with a 50mph speed limit, shouldn’t they at least be expected to adhere to the same safety standards as everyone else (ie travelling at an appropriate speed and having appropriate lights for safety reasons). Certainly no car would be able to get away with having “essentially wheel-powered bicycle reflector lights” on the back of their car. Seems a bit like a double standard to me, but it also affects me in no way at all never having met an Amish person in my life or driven past anyone on a horse and buggy on a main road.

Well, I don’t know how the minimum speed limit stuff works up there, but a lot of the other requirements that cars are required to meet as opposed to bicycles are requirements for motor vehicles. Since a horse-driven cart has no motor to speak of, it would not apply. That said, it seems like some kind of a buggy-lane could be handy, if rather inconvenient and expensive to set up on most roads.

What goes “Clip-clop, clip-clop, clip-clop…bang! bang!..clip-clop, clip-clop, clip-clop”?

An Amish drive-by shooting…

The reflector lights were a hard-fought compromise. The Amish do not believe in any form of modern technology, including battery-operated lights, and fought the state for years before both sides settled on the reflector lights, which use energy generated from the wheels.

Also, rural roads may be “main streets”, but they’re not all that busy in terms of traffic volume. The issue is not that they tie up traffic, but that they can force sudden deceleration.


A few things:

We don’t appear to be referring just to “the Amish” here, but a variety of Anabaptists, including Mennonites of a few different stripes and River Brethren. Their takes on various issues vary from sect to sect and law likely applies differently to them state to state.

Most of these groups do use electricity in some form, although in most cases an effort is made to keep it out of the house. This tends to go out the window in the rumspringa youth period, a whole other matter.

I think it’s important to note that they were where they lived long before “the English” moved in and brought the roads and high tension wires etc. You have all sorts of people moving into places like Lancaster County “for the charm” and now complaining that there are buggies on the road. Unbelievable.

See, I’ve never had a real problem with them, mostly because I don’t think it’s any different, really, than the farmer who has to move the tractor from the field down the way back up to the barn (which may be a factor of a mile or two on the road). If anything, the tractor is slower than the buggy.

You seem to be implying that the current situation, with Plain People and English living side-by-side, is something new. That is incorrect. My family counts at least five generations in Lancaster County, and that’s nothing particularly special - plenty of other English families go back much further. The Plain People didn’t move into some unspoiled wilderness of Lancaster County; they moved in beside other European settlers.

And really, even among the most obnoxious of the newcomers, I’ve never heard a complaint that “those buggies shouldn’t be allowed on the road”. The complaints about buggies fall into two groups. First, the type of complaints the OP referenced, that buggies do damage to the roads but the buggy owners don’t pay road taxes. I think in this case people see the superficial wear and tear, the scrapes and gouges in the surface caused by metal wheel rims and metal horse shoes, and assume that it represents significant damage. I don’t know whether this assumption is correct; I believe it isn’t, but I’d like to know whether roads in Lancaster County need to be repaired more often than those in, say, Adams County, which also has a significant tourist invasion every summer (Gettysburg) and the same climate, but considerably fewer buggies.

The second complaint which has come up involves safety. When you’ve got motorized and horse-drawn vehicles sharing the road, the difference in speed will pose a hazard, there’s nothing much to do about that. Battery-operated lights, similar to the small LED lights now standard for bicycles, would make buggies easier to see, and many English drivers would like to see them be required. Some Plain communities agree (after all, they’re the folks in the buggies, and much more likely to be badly injured or killed in an accident than the folks in the cars), some do not. I could also argue that PennDOT could look at how two-lane country highways are built in Sweden, with very wide, well-made shoulders that allow slower vehicles to pull right and greatly reduce the time it takes faster vehicles to overtake, making the road safer for everyone… but a) this is PennDOT we’re talking about, and b) oh hell, Norway’s right next door and our road authorities haven’t picked up on the idea yet…

Anyway. The idea that all road users should help pay for the roads, and the concept that vehicles should carry necessary safety equipment, don’t seem to me to be unnecessarily “mean” to Amish and buggy-using Mennonites. Buggy users don’t see eye-to-eye with car users on all points of these issues, but that’s hardly surprising, and it didn’t start with the post-Witness search-for-peace-and-transquility invasion of big city folk.

True, the tractor is slower than the buggy, but it’s a heck of a lot easier to see and you never almost rear-end a tractor at night.

Agreed. The level of development (cookie cutter housing developments etc) in the county has, however, spiked in recent years, along with attendant traffic. And virtuallt none of that new population is agrarian. I was driving around with a friend of mine who grew up in the county last summer and he was pretty upset; every sentence began with “That used to be…” and ended “… and now look at it!” He’s only 30.

And it has only been in the last several decades that motor traffic has been an issue; of course previous to that everyone was horse-dependent.

Not to mention a tractor in many cases is big and heavy enough to hardly notice a passenger car splattering itself against its back end…

Another difference between bicycles and buggies is that you rarely encounter a cyclist out at 11:00 p.m. on a rainy November night. Buggies are out all year for 16 - 20 hours a day, in all weather.

As noted, different Amish communities take different positions on the safety issues. Minnesota had a huge series of lawsuits and countersuits that finally resulted in the Amish agreeing to put the “slow-moving vehicle” triangles on the backs of their buggies, but only after the state came up with an alternative greyish reflector in place of the standard International Orange reflector. On the other hand, in my old neighborhood, Middlefield, OH, most of the buggies have lots of orange and silver striped tape on the roofs and sides of the backs of the buggies and they all have battery operated tail lights, generally set to flash. Down in Miller County, OH, with a larger Amish population than even Lancaster, PA, they are not quite so “gaudy” with the reflector tape, but they generally have lights for night use.

(I do not know how many Amish communities were involved in the fight with Minnesota. It may have been all of them or only a few of them.)

This would depend on the type of road. It is quite possible that metal rimmed buggies loaded with supplies could damage an asphalt road on a hot summer day. No chance of damaging a concrete road, but could makes scrape marks on it.