The caption accompanying this photo in an AP story on Amish and gas usage reads:  “Using real horse power to get around, an Amish buggy makes its way through Middlefield, Ohio, unconcerned about the rising gas prices…”

Actually, the Amish aren’t as oblivious to rising gas prices as we might think.

While it’s true they don’t have to worry about filling up a gas-slurping SUV every few days, they do consume fuel, both directly and indirectly.  So no, they aren’t too pumped when the numbers on the sign shoot up either.

For instance:

  • Amish business people must still ship and receive raw materials and finished products.  Higher gas means higher costs for them and for the ultimate consumers of their goods.
  • Amish frequently hire out ‘Amish taxis’ for whopper shopping trips to the local supermarket or to visit relatives outside of buggying distance.  They also venture further afield–to weddings in out-of-state Amish settlements, on hunting trips, to Florida.   Buggy ride to Sarasota?  No thanks.
  • Many Amish men work in the construction industry, or in locations out of walking, biking, or buggying distance.  They’ll get a ride with an English driver and contribute to the fuel costs.
  • Amish working in industries dependent on fuel prices may suffer.  Heavy, though thankfully temporary, layoffs hit the many RV-industry Amish in northern Indiana last summer, due to a drop in orders for the fuel-gulping monsters.
  • Many Amish use gasoline engines to power appliances such as washing machines, as well as farm and woodworking apparatus.

We still like to think of the Amish as living bubble lives, somehow insulated from the world.  It’s a nice idea but not really the case.

photo:  Amy Sancetta, AP

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