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Government tries to interfere with Amish tradition

By jardinier ·
I think this article will be of special interest to Americans, but also to anyone who believes Government should not try to interfere with individual rights.

Note especially the highlighted portion.

The executive director of a New York-based constitutional rights advocacy group says he will be talking with the senator who chairs the state's Labor Committee today during a special session of the State Legislature. At issue is the attempt to resolve a growing problem for some western New York Amish families whom state labor officials say are violating labor laws.

Amish families in Lyndonville have been told the businesses they run in which their minor children, ages 14 to 17, work -- including sawmilling, metalwork, and construction -- have to cease using the children. The Amherst Record newspaper reports labor officials began placing the businesses on notice earlier this summer.

Christian activist and lobbyist Duane Motley of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedom (NYCF) says it is vital to stop the erosion of the Amish families' constitutional rights before it goes any further. The violation of these families' freedoms by New York State labor officials must be checked, he contends, "because, if they can limit the Amish in just this one area, what's going to prohibit them from expanding it into other areas affecting the Amish?

"And, of course," Motley adds, "if you limit the Amish, you've got to limit everybody else." That includes New York's home schooling families, he notes, as home school students often intern with someone in the world of work instead of going to trade school.

The Christian lobbyist says any proposals to help the Amish families through labor law changes have to come through the Labor Committee, which is why he is looking to speak with State Senator George Maziarz. Unfortunately, the NYCF spokesman points out, that committee is also lobbied strongly and regularly by labor unions in the state.

Motley believes the New York unions lobbying the Labor Committee may fear unregulated competition from Amish businesses and therefore may have an interest in blocking any changes to state law that would provide an exception for Amish families or others using minor children as apprentices or workers in particular occupations.

Challenges to the old order cultural tradition of the Amish, which starts young people working with their parents after eighth grade, are causing some families to consider moves as drastic as leaving the state if area lawmakers cannot help them work out a legislative solution. State lawmakers have been quoted as saying they will investigate the issue of whether state labor laws can be modified to accommodate the Amish community's traditional religious practices with regard to their family businesses.

Steve Crampton, chief counsel with the American Family Association Center for Law and Policy, believes constitutional law is on the Amish families' side. He notes that a 1972 Supreme Court ruling in Wisconsin v. Yoder, which provided a precedent establishing Amish families right to keep their children out of public schools, would be in the New York families' favor if they end up having to take the labor matter to court.

Also, the pro-family attorney observes, "The fact that they have so faithfully adhered to their principles and their deeply-held beliefs over a period of centuries really puts them in an unusual ... and a strong factual sort of position to challenge the likes of the New York labor laws."

In other words, the Amish community tradition of introducing its young people early to the world of work has a lengthy history, Crampton explains. So, he says, decades of practice on record that this tradition has not proven hazardous to the children should help the families if the matter has to be resolved in court.

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It's part of a bigger issue. . . . .

by maxwell edison In reply to Government tries to inter ...

.....and until that bigger issue is both recognized and resolved, such things will continue.

I often have discussions with my teenage son about the jobs I had as a boy, and how they were all positive experiences for me. They would "violate" today's labor laws (something he and I both resent, by the way), although NONE of them were anything close to being a bad thing.

This is far from a religious issue, Julian, but more accurately an individual liberty issue. Until the core issue of government interference in individual lives is recognized as the REAL problem, people's rights will continue to be violated. However, there are simply too many busy-body, goody-two-shoes, know-better-than-everyone-else, zealots who have become "accepted" as legitimate, instead of being publicly tarred-and-feathered and run outta' town (figuratively speaking, of course).

It's not unlike a question I asked in a different thread (which absolutely nobody answered, by the way, probably for fear of admitting the truth and/or being seen as hypocritical). Should a government have the right to force one citizen to serve the needs of another citizen? The answer is an unequivocal no; ALL issues should rest on this premise; and the chips should be left to fall where they may. Anything other than that, and you'll have infringements on individual rights. The people who say "it depends on the circumstances" either fall into the category of people described above; or they let their emotions trump their reason; or they're afraid of what it might mean to them personally, in as much as THEIR desire to force others to capitulate to their will under certain circumstances (other people should be forced to pay for my health care, for example); or they have not thought these types of issues through, at least to the point of using core principles as their guide. (And have you noticed how many people absolutely HATE my constant use of the term "core principles"? Is it because they have none themselves, or is it that they can't advance an argument against mine?)

In this case, the law of unintended consequences is doing more harm than originally intended, and certainly more than anyone will probably admit. In their zeal to put an end to the stereo-typical "child labor sweat shops" of a century ago, they've literally trampled all over individual rights and common sense -- AND diversity of thought and opinion.

To paraphrase a recent political campaign slogan, it's the core issue, stupid!

(And before anyone "reads into" that and suggests I'm calling anyone "stupid", here's a reference:'s_the_economy,_stupid )

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I agree.

by onbliss In reply to It's part of a bigger iss ...

I will just quote the paragraph I liked the most in your post

"In this case, the law of unintended consequences is doing more harm than originally intended, and certainly more than anyone will probably admit. In their zeal to put an end to the stereo-typical "child labor sweat shops" of a century ago, they've literally trampled all over individual rights and common sense -- AND diversity of thought and opinion"

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Thank You (EOM)

by maxwell edison In reply to I agree.
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I agree with you and all I get is

by onbliss In reply to Thank You (EOM) this lousy "Thank You (EOM)". ha ha :-)

Merry Christmas to you and your family. Keep Smiling.

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I didn't want to press my luck!

by maxwell edison In reply to I agree with you and all ...

<insert smiley face here>


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Yes this is indeed stupid ...

by drowningnotwaving In reply to It's part of a bigger iss ...

We all worked around the house, yard and / or farm from when we were little.

I see kids (12 - 15) helping out in their parent's restaurants, in their newsagencies (magazine / newspaper stores) and heaps of other things and they don't seem to come out as sociopathic misfits.

But there is a need to understand the line so that the "stereo-typical" sweat-shop is not, by de facto standards, allowed to return.

How to measure or guard against that line is difficult, because any guarding can be perceived as impinging upon someone's right.

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The very reason to continue to have children is

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to Yes this is indeed stupid ...


What other use do they serve if they are not the ones to run to the TV and change channels, volume or whatever? I blame Technology for the erosion of the ability of children to know what is acceptable for them to do now days. With the advent of remotes the children no longer had to race to the TV every time that you needed the channel changed, put in a Video or DVD and worse still stopped making their beds or doing any work around the house that they live in and still expect to receive pocket money for sitting on their A$$es doing nothing and making more work for others.

The average child is going to cost you upward of $100,000.00 to bring up to age 18 if not more so you need to get some of that investment back by making the little buggers work for everything that they are costing you.

I look at it this way if they are old enough to walk they are old enough to work in the family business at some level of involvement. You start them off in the more dangerous places like sharpening saw blades while they are still running and if they survive they have proven their fitness to start to climb the corporate ladder and eventually end up running the show. Just think of allowing some silly person who isn't bright enough not to get killed in the shop being allowed to run the place and place others lives in danger!


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This is not about protecting children

by jdclyde In reply to It's part of a bigger iss ...

You are absolutely correct Max (Imagine that?).

People who FEEL so much yet don't have a logical thought bouncing around in their liberal wasteland of a brain have worked hard to destroy what they don't "like".

Children have always grown up helping around the farm, or family business to help the family make ends meet and teach them a trade. It had the effect of building self esteem from knowing a job well done and learning a work ethic.

The more responsibilities you give someone, the more responsible they are. Give them less responsibilities and they grow up to be Democrats, expecting people to do everything for them. Pay for my education, pay to feed my family, pay for my medical, and give me free internet access.

We hear all the time about the "shrinking middle class", but everyone forgets to mention that todays lower income people live today with the equal standard of living that the middle class did back when the "war on poverty" was miserably launched.

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Other examples

by JamesRL In reply to Government tries to inter ...

I grew up in a farming area, and this would certainly negatively impact both farmers and kids, not to mention driving up the cost of food for no real benefit.

Helping the family business includes doing some work, even for kids under 14. And the kids often get paid for it, learning the value of hard work and money. Those kids I grew up with know the value of a dollar. They know how to save to get the things they want.

This also exists in other businesses - kids stocking shelves at the corner convenience store, is one example.

I buy produce from Mennonites (the Amish are an offshoot of the Mennonites) at a farmers market. Sometimes the kids selling it are young - 12/13. But they are contributing to their family and are better for it.

For all the comments from some about Canada being a socialist haven, no one has thrown out an idea like this.


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Depends on whether the children are labour or not

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to Government tries to inter ...

If they are being paid a wage and are officially an employee and they want to do it, then there's no problem.
If some of those aren't true...

If they weren't Amish would it still be acceptable is the only question.

If no other religious group gets the distinction, then neither do they.

You have to be real careful with this sort of culture/religious tradition. Otherwise you could be setting a precedent you don't want to.

There used to be a tradition with mill owners in the UK and kids working.

Question, how on earth do they get insurance against injury?

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