Posted by Kendall Harmon

The centerpiece of the case against Obamacare is the requirement that everyone buy some kind of health insurance or face stiff penalties--the so-called individual mandate. It is a way of moving toward universal coverage without a government-run or single-payer system. It might surprise Americans to learn that another advanced industrial country, one with a totally private health care system, made precisely the same choice nearly 20 years ago: Switzerland. The lessons from Switzerland and other countries can't resolve the constitutional issues, but they suggest the inevitability of some version of Obamacare....

Twenty years ago, Switzerland had a system very similar to America's--private insurers, private providers--with very similar problems. People didn't buy insurance but ended up in emergency rooms, insurers screened out people with pre-existing conditions, and costs were rising fast. The country came to the conclusion that to make health care work, everyone had to buy insurance.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetMedicareThe National DeficitPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaTaiwanEuropeSwitzerland

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Posted March 22, 2012 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Every so often someone asks me: “What’s your favorite country, other than your own?”

I’ve always had the same answer: Taiwan. “Taiwan? Why Taiwan?” people ask.

Very simple: Because Taiwan is a barren rock in a typhoon-laden sea with no natural resources to live off of — it even has to import sand and gravel from China for construction — yet it has the fourth-largest financial reserves in the world. Because rather than digging in the ground and mining whatever comes up, Taiwan has mined its 23 million people, their talent, energy and intelligence — men and women. I always tell my friends in Taiwan: “You’re the luckiest people in the world. How did you get so lucky? You have no oil, no iron ore, no forests, no diamonds, no gold, just a few small deposits of coal and natural gas — and because of that you developed the habits and culture of honing your people’s skills, which turns out to be the most valuable and only truly renewable resource in the world today. How did you get so lucky?”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationHistory* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaTaiwan

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Posted March 11, 2012 at 6:24 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Obama administration announced the sale Friday of $6 billion worth of Patriot anti-missile systems, helicopters, mine-sweeping ships and communications equipment to Taiwan in a long-expected move that sparked an angry protest from China.

In a strongly worded statement on Saturday, China's Defense Ministry suspended military exchanges with the United States and summoned the U.S. defense attache to lodge a "solemn protest" over the sale, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

"Considering the severe harm and odious effect of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, the Chinese side has decided to suspend planned mutual military visits," Xinhua quoted the ministry as saying. The Foreign Ministry said China also would put sanctions on U.S. companies supplying the equipment.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign Relations* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaChinaTaiwan

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Posted January 30, 2010 at 10:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

(Taiwan Church News)

Evangelism should definitely be one of the missions of the church and many churches today are trying their best to excel in this area. Some churches try to research the local sub-culture before promoting a strategy. Others participate in mission conferences in search for the best method available to spread the gospel. Still others try to mimic successful models they have seen other organizations apply in order to invigorate local evangelism. However, regardless of how much effort churches put into the ministry of evangelism, who is the key person affecting the development of this ministry? The answer is the pastor.

Though churches may have successful evangelism strategies, as soon as the pastor moves away, everything comes to a halt. Furthermore, all the resources and experiences that the previous pastor built during his time ministering in the area are seldom passed on, so the new pastor must often start from scratch. Though this phenomenon is a major loss and a waste of resources for many local churches, it has always been prevalent among churches from past to present. Therefore, the pastor becomes an important topic of discussion when discussing evangelism ministries.

When studying this issue, one important item that cannot be ignored is the negative effect a pastor’s relocation will have on local evangelism ministries. Furthermore, the higher the rate of relocation, the more harm is inflicted. So, how do we prevent this situation and stop the harm that is being inflicted? Below are my humble suggestions.

First, we must revise the current system. We are confident that pastors are very clear about their calling and will always be faithful to their churches. They normally will not relocate based on impulse alone. However, the realities of life often tempt them to relocate and the decision to move or stay is not determined by one individual alone. Therefore, churches and pastors must first agree that pastors will not look at the relocation issue lightly. In addition, churches must endeavor to remove factors that would tempt a pastor to relocate. For example, within the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT), pastoral salary and related benefits are major temptations luring pastors away from churches they are currently serving. The reason is because a pastor’s salary and benefits are often determined by the financial situation of the church where the pastor is serving. Since salaries vary a lot depending on where one is serving, many pastors must use their skills to fight for “top jobs”. Such a system in the PCT creates an inevitable collision between a pastor’s calling and the realities of life, which is a problem we must address. The high turnover among pastors in rural churches is a well-documented fact. How can Christians have confidence their church’s evangelism ministries when top leadership at the church is constantly changing? Though overhauling the current system will be a long process, it is also a problem the PCT must address because the effects of high turnover rates are harming church evangelism as a whole. The General Assembly and local presbyteries can assist and encourage pastors by offering subsidies to financially poor churches so that they can pay for their pastors’ vocational training or increase their pastors’ income. That way, pastors won’t be distracted by looking for more salary to support his family.

Second, we must allow local churches to partner with seminaries so that seminaries can nurture the kind of pastors churches need. That way, once seminarians graduate, they can return and serve the churches that sponsored them. This would greatly improve the development and continuation of local evangelism because these graduates will already know a great deal about the local church’s history, background, and outreach ministries. They will also already possess a lot of knowledge about the needs of the locals. Though this suggestion may affect the PCT’s system determining how and where seminarians are sent upon graduation, the change would also facilitate the way church evangelism is passed down and carried on, thus worthy of some reflection.

There are many success stories today when it comes to church evangelism, and in all of them, the pastor plays a key role. Furthermore, the length of a pastor’s tenure also affects the local church’s attempts at evangelism. The more frequently a church’s pastor relocates, the harder it is for that church’s ministry to bear fruit. One reason is that church members can sense whether a pastor exhibits confidence in his daily work, which will have spillover effects in church evangelism. Therefore, the challenges facing evangelism ministries mentioned above should not be glossed over. I hope that my humble suggestions above will stir discussion on the topic as we seek to find solutions to problems and improve the way churches do missions.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* International News & CommentaryAsiaTaiwan* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian

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Posted January 9, 2009 at 8:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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