Tuesday, December 30, 2008

State of the Nation - The View from a Beggar's Seat

As a first-year student at my school here in Taiwan, I was required to complete a Health Examination. Today, I received the standard Physical once-over, along with a Chest X-ray and a blood test (results will be in after the new year on those two).

The whole thing cost me about $25 US.

I was astonished at the low price, really. $700NT, I think. I'm pretty sure a visit to the physician, Stateside, would cost that in our Nation's currency. I don't have insurance - here or home - but that did not matter, nor did it affect the price. I walked in, let them have their way with me and the tests, and I was out the door.

KeepTaiwanFree.org listed a few lesser known facts about this island-Country. It's striking how, in some ways, they are much further along - developmentally speaking - than even the States. We would do well to take note. (Hat tip: Alex)

Taiwan has the worlds highest recycling rate in the world, and is the first country to implement plastic recycling as a nation-wide program. Meanwhile China is well known for its rampant pollution.

Taiwan has the most Ph.D,’s per capita, and the most college graduates in the world, both domestically and internationally.

The gender wealth equality in Taiwan is 43%, the highest in Asia and near the top of the world. Women in Taiwan generally get paid just as much as their male counterparts. Plus unlike the U.S.A. and Japan, women generally don’t use the spousal last name or a Mrs. title in any professional or business environment. As a result many Taiwanese students don’t even know the marital status of their female teachers, let alone the last name of their spouse.

Lowest Poverty Rate in the World: Taiwan has the lowest poverty rate in the world, only 0.95%. The United States has 12.6% of the population below the poverty line, and Japan at 10%. China has 8% but their poverty line is so low that one must make less than $150 USD a year to qualify.

This last item really struck a chord with me. Lowest Poverty Rate in the World?? That's truly remarkable. I wonder if "Affordable Healthcare" was somewhere in the philosophy that lead the Nation to earn this title.

My new photo was taken during a class field trip to a Taoist Temple. I was sitting on a fixated stool perched at the exit of the Temple. It was called the Beggar's Seat. In older times (the Temple was at least 100 years old), homeless and fringe society would rest at the Tiger's Exit and pan penance from those who had just left their prayers.

No one was sitting there, that day. The Beggar's Seat was empty.

Someday, there will be no Beggar's Seat in the Land I will call my Home. It, too, will be empty. Society's most destitute will be tended to. It will be a time where it's not only Affordable to care for the Least of These, but Essential.

This will not happen overnight. And by no means am I holding my breath. I am, however, no less a proponent in that essential change.

Seeing this Change come about in our day-to-day world goes much beyond the realm of Politics.

No matter who you are: Doctor, Patient; Teacher, Student; slumped in the Beggar's Seat, or leaving the Temple Grounds... I encourage and invite you to join me and seek out this Essential Change in the reality of your day-to-day.


My crazy crazy life said...

I'm not a perfectionist and I'm GREAT at it!

Rachel Tamed said...

It is amazing to see where all this money tied into our medical system really gets us. Million dollar insurance policies and million dollar lawsuits, and millions of people who cannot even afford medicine.

We could learn a lot from Tiawan...I am hoping you will come back to teach us :)

Don said...


I enjoyed the interesting facts regarding Taiwan. I once worked with a computer programmer who had come from Taiwan. She was awesome, both as a person and as a co-worker. Her's is a culture we can learn from.

But on the larger issue of poverty and essential change, I would ask this: Is mandated philanthropy really philanthropy? Or is legislated charity really charity? Is it possible to eradicate poverty? Hmmm…

For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always.

Does that mean our response to taking care of the poor and less fortunate is unimportant? No.

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

Personal treatment and support of the poor is a watershed question of the coming kingdom. It is very important, but optional: like most good choices are. But later, in Heaven… essential, but still perhaps the result of choice.

Food for thought. (Enjoyed your post.)