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The Amish: Their Past and Present May Hold Our Future

Posted on 10 April 2011 by Editor

Originally posted 2010-01-26 23:16:57. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

American Soldierby Wenchypoo
Wenchwisdom.blogspot.com

If you ever wanted to see where we’re likely headed with the economy, oil use, work life, and self-sustainability, you should look to the Amish and their culture. Their past represents our possible future, and provides some wonderful clues about how to deal with it.

Some surprising and interesting facts about the Amish people:

  • A fine distinction has been made between ownership and use. They can ride in or hire combustion-powered vehicles (with non-Amish drivers) to travel in, as long as they don’t own or operate them without special permission of the church. Certain work crews (construction-related) have special permission to lease work vehicles, operate heavy equipment and electrically powered tools as necessary for their job, as long as they don’t tap into the power lines from outside, or the 110-volt power from outlets.
  • Most families have scaled back or abandoned farming completely, due to skyrocketing prices of land, equipment, and supplies. Population strains within communities have placed a high demand for farmland, right along with developers from the encroaching “outside” world. Being penned-in by land availability and affordability, church, and family constraints, most have turned to business for their livelihood. Amish micro-enterprises abound in large cultural homelands such as Lancaster, PA and others.
  • Education beyond 8th grade home schooling is forbidden. Training for a specific job or job component is allowed, as long as it isn’t formal (for a degree program), and is available by other means (OJT, apprenticeship, workshops/seminars, etc.), because it’s feared that a formal education would encourage leaving the farm and community. Any occupation requiring the use of force (military, police, etc.) is forbidden. Membership in unions and engaging in litigation is also forbidden; it is seen as a horrific waste of money and resources.
  • Amish workers and employers are exempt from Social Security and Medicare tax. Their culture does not allow for paying into or drawing from the system, because extended family and the church serve as their means of social support in times of need or disability/old age. They are also exempt from military service because they believe in non-resistance.
  • Most Amish micro-enterprises are home-based, providing for a family/culture/church woven network in their daily lives. Men and women are encouraged into business equally, but family and church must take priority over economic needs (time off for weddings/funerals/Amish holidays/barn-raisings, etc.). Business is considered a “sideline” to their traditional farming work, despite many families leaving farming as their mainstay.
  • If some component of business requires the use of electronics or combustion, they can contract it out to other firms—even non-Amish ones. They are also allowed to use “non-native” materials (not found on the farm) such as plastics, fiberglass, etc. with church permission. By outsourcing such things, the boss can work right alongside the employees–ensuring immediate access to production, staff, and customers throughout the day. If an electrically-powered item is absolutely essential to their business, an electrical source is created through the in-line use of a diesel engine, hydraulic and air generators, and an inverter—this cumbersome arrangement is called “Amish electricity” because it produces the power they need, albeit inefficiently, without tapping into the forbidden power lines or outlets of the outside world.
  • With the declining availability and outright extinction of some elements of their lives, such as buggy parts, horse plow equipment, etc., these people have made an ingenious bargain with the modern world: they can take modern equipment and “modify” it for their use, with church permission.
  • Since most work takes place during the light hours, industrious use of solar energy abounds in the form of skylights. A few Amish families have been given church permission to explore the modification, refinement, and creation of solar panels to use and sell. For the most part, sweat equity, propane, kerosene, natural gas, and firewood remain their energy sources.
  • Participation in local and regional business associations (Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, etc.) is looked down on, but not forbidden, if used solely as a networking vehicle. Political participation is also looked down on, except when the goal is to become familiar with and voice concerns about regulations and ordinances. Voting at national elections is permitted and voluntary. Lobbying is forbidden. Local craft guilds are the preferred way of communing, networking, and learning.

Clever ingenuity has been the by-product of a population kept small and relatively quiet by church laws and cultural taboos…ingenuity we can all benefit from. Swaying church permissions, meant to keep people and businesses “small”, have helped rather than hindered their usher into the modern world, all in the name of encouraging enterprise.

It would seem to the average reader that the Amish have it together in the modern world, even though their lifestyle harkens back to the Elizabethan Era in Europe (1600’s). We would do a lot for ourselves by taking heed of what these fine people have to offer in the way of possible solutions to our impending problems–if only we’d look back in time for innovation inspiration. What DID people do before the advent of 110-volt power, refined oil, the various social service systems, and disposable “stuff”?

Perhaps the Amish hold many answers to some of our future pressing problems, like questionable oil supplies, environmental poisoning, Social Security and Medicare deficits, skyrocketing education costs, corporate greed, and self-sufficiency in general. Perhaps we outsiders need to look to the past for our future needs…or maybe the past is slowly, cleverly building itself to accommodate bits of the future on limited terms. So much of their “restrictions” make a lot of sense, and for logical reasons (church aside).

It’s interesting how some things in their world mesh with things in our world. Problems that we have incurred in the outside world have also been incurred and “cured” inside, such as:

  • Corporate greed—when the Amish sense that they have too much (money, work, overhead), they either divide the business and sell divisions, turn divisions over to relatives, or sell off the entire business. The church lets them know when they’ve grown too big for their britches, but the church smiles upon success with humility. Unbridled growth is unsustainable, and only leads to waning demand and “Been-There-Done-That” Syndrome.
  • Clutter and excess—drawing a fine line between ownership and use, they tend to keep down the number of things they own and may not use every day, keeping farm clutter to a minimum (as well as liability). Merely getting to use something to get a job done, rather than keeping around “just in case they need it again” saves space, money, and headaches.
  • Over-education—in today’s world, more and more people spend more and more money to garner degrees for jobs that can be performed well without those pieces of paper…and then those jobs disappear, leading to yet more and different degrees. A basic education and hands-on training are sufficient for most jobs in this country, but it won’t make the kind of money we demand from the start for those jobs. A particular thorn in this area is the advent of women returning to the workplace…many women pursue expensive degrees, only to leave the workforce a few years later to raise children. At some point, we have to ask ourselves: is the return on education investment worth it in the end, or are we spending more for that degree than we wind up making in the workforce?
  • Over-work—the Amish have made this part of their lives, yet we haven’t really begun to benefit in large numbers from the flexible hours and access to family that a home-based business brings. We prefer to indenture ourselves to corporations on their terms, and merely hope for the best when it comes to leaving our kids in the daycare and public school systems. Work has become the center of our lives, rather than the home and family.
  • Insufficient government funds—we are currently facing a crisis of monumental proportion when it comes to the Boomer generation, retirement, and health care in regard to unfunded retirement and Medicare needs. Our current system is a pay-as-you-go one, meaning current workers pay taxes for current retirees and Medicare recipients to collect checks and benefits from. When the number of workers dwindles and the numbers of retirees and medically needy balloons, the payroll taxes will increase to accommodate their social service needs…and your paycheck decreases as a result. By relying less on others and more on our own resources, we can ease this burden somewhat, even though the money paid into the system already will be lost forever.
  • Declining natural resources—there is talk that the current global oil supply will last for another 30 years or so, that oil drillers are already having a hard time finding and getting oil out of the ground, and OPEC certainly cannot keep up with current and future demands. If this is the case, we need to find large-scale inexpensive viable alternatives now, and something other than the expensive substitutes we currently have available as options.

By modifying existing equipment, the Amish have made clever use of hydraulics and pneumatics to avoid using the one power source forbidden by the church. By employing the use of modified equipment, and working with the sun, we would save tons of generated energy from outside and personal energy from within.

  • Over-globalization–Rather than making contentious trade deals and questionable ad campaigns in pursuit of the almighty dollar, and succumbing to a 24-7 world in all its different time zones, perhaps we should be thinking about going back to work with nature and providing for ourselves what we really need right here at home. Over-technology, over-ownership, and unsustainability contribute to this need for global profit reach, and we need to ask ourselves what we’ll do with it all when the power goes out.

We need to get creative again, make ample use of what we already have, and satisfy demand here at home, rather than covering the globe with things nobody wants or needs (complete with culture-targeted slick marketing). Working efficiently within daylight hours and personal constraints leaves plenty of time to attend to other priorities, like family, home, and church, and working close to home insures easy access to family—the top priority.

  • Over-regulation—by recognizing that government only serves as an interfering body when it comes to daily work, spiritual and home life, the Amish seceded from the outside world into one where their church and service to God is the regulator…no vote, no committee. Since coming to America to escape religious persecution by both Catholics and Protestants, a compact has been struck with Uncle Sam: no interference, except where elements of the outside world come onto the farm or into the business (zoning, health inspections for food-related businesses, sales taxes, business sign sizing, and payroll taxes for non-Amish employees). The church takes care of the rest.

Persecuted in Europe…settled and thriving in America…the Amish have been with us since before the Declaration of Independence was signed. They will likely still be here when the rest of us burn out and move on. Who knows? They may be our only guiding force in the end for flipping the dependency switch on technology once and for all.

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Wenchypoo writes for the Wenchwisdom blog

Article has been published with permission

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Meet the New Boss—Ollie Garchy

Posted on 10 April 2011 by Editor

Originally posted 2009-07-31 20:18:14. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

by Wenchypoo
Wenchwisdom.blogspot.com
July 19, 2009

Meet Ollie, or Oligarchy, as he’s formally known as.

What is an oligarchy? It’s a form of government in which all power is vested in a few persons or in a dominant class or clique; government by the few (according to Dictionary.com).

For those of you who haven’t been keeping up with the political and business goings-on, our country is becoming One Nation Under ACORN, Goldman-Sachs, G.E., AIG, and soon to be Wally-World.

Pretty much all power in this country, including utility power (and probably our personal power too), is being consolidated into a few key areas. This is steps 2 and 3 in the political career longevity path.

The consolidation has gotten so bad that our politicians are no longer reading legislation, sometimes not even completing the bill writing, before they go to vote on it. This is like trying to operate a nuke plant without so much as an instruction manual!

But this is what it takes to pass an unpopular agenda—an agenda so egregious, it would set back economic progress 50-100 years—in the name of social justice for a few. This is also what it takes to maintain power while making an end-run around Congress and the constitutionally-derived checks and balances created by our Founding Fathers.

Corruption has become art form. Now we all have to learn how to make this new art form function in our lives, or go mad fighting it. I don’t know about you, but I have the Loony Bin on speed-dial, and reservations have already been made for my eventual residence.

What really kills me (and probably you, too) is the fact that there are so many end-runs we ourselves can make to avoid suffering through a lot of this nonsense. If I, a lowly unemployed housewife, can come up with avoidance tactics, why can’t trained legal minds (like the ones in Congress or the White House) see them too?

But I digress…let’s get back to the Ollie part—businesses on their knees in front of the Oval Office. They obviously don’t see a way out for themselves without total collapse and/or destruction of the empires so carefully built to this day, so they’ve sold their souls (and their clientele) into “universal” and “green” captivity. The Ollies feel there is no other way to survive that to bend to Obama’s will and agenda, and do their best to carry it out—this was most recently evident with the announcement of Wally-World’s sustainability index creation and the re-vamping of their vendors to meet this index.

You ask me, I say this is smokescreen to get us away from the sudden reversal of Wally-World’s decision regarding acceptance of universal health care. Wally sees the writing on the wall: a government-paid public option would drastically reduce his own health insurance expenses per employee to more closely match his chief competitor, Target. To avoid proposed taxation of those benefits, he has switched horses in mid-stream, and changed from blue-vested yellow smiley faces to green and indexed to sustainability, in hopes of capturing idiots who have more dollars than sense, and chase after these marketing concepts. These “green” products that pass muster will also come with a higher profit margin to Wally (and higher prices to you)—haven’t you figured this out yet?

Another nail in the coffin: the bottoming of CIT Financial–de facto home of small business loans everywhere. No small business loans, no more retail business–and you can kiss Christmas shopping goodbye! Christmas merchandise ordering gets done this month, but without financing…well, you know. Now you get a better understanding of why Wally wants to go green–WE THE PEOPLE will become Wally’s (and other retailers’) new CIT Financial.

Wally, for one retailer, has lost its way. Providing value for the consumer is no longer profitable, in spite of all the technological, supply chain, and retail theory advances—it has all come back down to margin per unit. Going green is providing “political value” to the consumer instead, and at such a cost.

I’m sure it’s the same at the other Ollies, too—charging more per unit, providing less real value per unit, and tangibility is forever gone, replaced with intricate marketing maneuvers and clever language.

I’ve noticed that pretty much all Ollies are the same, including Congress and the states: they’re loathe to reduce spending to get it under revenue income, so they find ways to jack up the income (through increased and invented taxes, increased prices, less selection, smaller sizes, etc.) without thinking we would find ways to avoid paying the increases.

Ollie may think he’s clever, but we are too. I hope he has a backup plan in case his first gambit fails—and it will if I know the American spirit. If someone is stupid enough to stand and take it, then they get what they deserve.

How can we kill off Ollie? With votes. We…well, enough of us voted this disaster into office, and we can vote it out–one cast of characters at a time. As for the rest of Ollie, we can vote with out wallets and choose not to play their games. They’ll get the message, and shift accordingly or die off altogether.

When you think about it, have you ever seen an Ollie without a Kukula and Fran nearby? Take away Fran and Kukula, and Ollie doesn’t survive alone—he needs an audience. Take your cue and walk out on him, using your votes (both kinds).

 

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Wenchypoo writes for the Wechwisdom blog

Article has been published with permission


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Fun With Cost Cutting

Posted on 10 April 2011 by Editor

Originally posted 2009-08-21 21:20:21. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Contributor
. by Wenchypoo
. http://wenchwisdom.blogspot.com/
. August 12, 2009


Instead of installing The Complete Lives System of Ezekiel Emanuel through H-R 3200, why not do some basic things like:

1. Promote and adhere to the 5 Basics for Disease-Cutting.

2. Promote my own proposal items for health care coverage.

3. Quit covering illegal aliens and anchor babies–send them home instead.

4. End the fraud, waste, and abuse of Medicare funds.

5. Means-test us all for eligibility before automatically signing us up for Medicare–put an income limit on service access, and allow wealthy people to opt out of the system (and the taxes for it). Once a certain income level is achieved (say $250k/year), give the one-time choice to opt out and never return–at that income level, people can afford to save their own money for retirement health insurance needs.

6. Index the Medicare tax to income–if wealthy people decide to stay in the system, up their Medicare taxes accordingly.

7. Allow and encourage flat-fee plans: every doctor’s office should have a menu board with prices on it for office visits, annual physicals, maternity, well baby care, childhood immunization(s), childhood vaccinations, adult vaccinations, diabetes/hypertension checks, and other miscellaneous fees spelled out right there over the counter, so we know what we’re paying for and how much we’re paying, and can plan our spending and saving in advance.

8. Allow cash payment for fees and services–the charges are often less if they aren’t run through the grinder of insurance, saving the patient even more when combined with flat-fee programs. Doctors also receive their money right away, and not 30 days later.

9. Overhaul the drug patent rules so that more drugs can go generic faster. For example, Claritin spent 10 years as a brand-name drug just by adding a decongestant to it (now Claritin D) to extend the patent life. Many other drugs also extend patent lives by adding an antacid, a decongestant, or Tylenol to the original drug. Some heart or blood pressure medications combine with cholesterol drugs, and voila! A “new” drug is formed, and two patent lives are extended. End this practice.

10. Encourage the use of supplementation (not herbs) before reaching for Big Pharma guns, but then this would require doctors to brush up on their knowledge of supplements…as if they ever had any to begin with! Potassium citrate is an effective blood pressure lowering agent, and just as effective as many brand-name drugs. Calcium citrate or carbonate is an effective antacid, and a chromium picolinate/vanadium combination lowers blood sugar just as well as low-dose insulin. Fish oil is as effective as Plavix for clearing arteries, and fiber lowers cholesterol–also, niacinamide taken with 2 aspirin every day raises HDL. (There–I think I’ve cured most of ailing America with those last two sentences.)

Doctors are guilty of reaching for DRUG technology just as much as reaching for DIAGNOSTIC technology.

Then, when these are all done, we can move on to the biggest health care money-wasters.

Why does it always take an unemployed housewife to solve these problems? :)

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Wenchypoo writes for the Wenchwisdom blog

Article has been published with permission

Comments (2)

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