Driving cross country recently, we zoomed through the Amish country in Holmes County in Ohio, where 44% of the population speaks some sort of German/Dutch as their first language. I was under the mistaken impression that the Amish abjure all technology past some point in history, such as the New Testament, on fundamentalist theological grounds. This would imply that the comfort gap is continually increasing: e.g., children would be playing with un-awesome wooden toys.
But a couple of hours of driving around showed I was mistaken. Congregations apparently pick and choose which technologies they will allow themselves based on what they kind of culture they want. This means they can adopt new technology if they feel it is constructive. The kids, and there are a lot of kids, typically have brightly colored plastic outdoor toys like other children have.
There's nothing that looks like modern poverty and there's a faint air of quiet prosperity. It's a much tougher life than I'd like, but my general impression was that these people know what they are doing. They might well be getting better at doing what they do.There is a sizable Amish community northeast of my former home, Fort Wayne. One of my brothers once interned for a financial consulting group in Fort Wayne and was surprised to discover that there the firm had a relatively large number of Amish clients, most of whom were millionaires, that were looking for asset protection. The Amish also seem to have a good political lobby, seeing as how they live quite out of step with the modern state and don't seem to suffer much in the way of political penalty for it.
The Amish life might seem tough to outsiders, but my perspective as a painter is that manual labor is more rewarding and enjoyable than most white collar workers would suspect. Toss in the fact that Amish women tend to be prettier than average and also quite open to having lots of children (and consequently the adult calisthenics such outcomes necessarily imply), and you have yourself a pretty enjoyable life. Rewarding work, lots of sex with a beautiful wife, and amassed wealth besides... How bad can that really be?