by Scott Sauls, Christ Presbyterian ChurchI hate it when people criticize me.Recently, a man who was traveling through visited our church and then sent me a public criticism on Twitter, telling me all of the things that, in his “humble opinion,” were wrong about my sermon. Feeling defensive and irritated, I foolishly retaliated with a zinger or two of my own. The man then sent five more messages on Twitter, piling on more criticism, taking my words out of context, putting words in my mouth that I never said, and assigning motives to me that I never had. I then responded a second time, again in a way that was not helpful.My unofficial “big brother,” Scotty Smith, saw this Twitter exchange and swiftly texted me a short message: “Scott, don’t wrestle with pigs.”Scotty’s text was not intended to insult the man on Twitter. Rather, he was reminding me of a phrase that he and I had picked up from an article by Carey Nieuwhof about healthy leadership. “Don’t wrestle with pigs” is another way of saying that when people try to pick a fight with you or seem bent on criticizing you no matter what you say or do, it’s usually best simply not to engage them. Why? Because when leaders “wrestle with pigs,” we, too run the risk of becoming pig-headed in the process.There is another disadvantage to “wrestling with pigs.” When we fight back—instead of seeking to defuse the situation by not responding or by answering gently—we condition ourselves to reject all criticism, even the kind that is fair. When we do this, we harm everyone including ourselves.In each of us, there is potential for good and also for evil. We are, at the same time, both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, saints and transgressors, old man and new man, flesh, and spirit. We are, as Luther said, simul iustus et peccator—simultaneously righteous (in Christ) and sinner (in our flesh).Throughout the pages of Scripture, God responds to our sin and foolishness with reassurance instead of shame, kindness instead of punishment, mercy instead of judgment, and love instead of abandonment. We are told that it is his kindness that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). This being true, why would we ever consider not repenting of our sin as a viable option? Likewise, why would we continue to go to such great lengths to avoid all criticism?Criticism that is constructive—whether directly from Scripture or from a person—is one of the ways God answers our prayer, “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.”This portion of the Lord’s Prayer reminds us that all sin is absurd and futile and stupid—because sin is not just an act of rebellion against the law of God. Even worse, it is an act of hatred against the love of God.This is why King David, reflecting on his adultery, murder, and abuse of power, wrote that his sins brought him no joy but instead crushed his bones and sapped his spirit of joy (Psalm 51:8, 12). Clinging to sin afflicted him, tormented his soul, blocked his vision, wearied him with grief, and wasted him physically (Psalm 31:6-10).Whenever we sin against God, we also sin against ourselves. We cannot thrive outside the blessed boundaries of God’s law any more than a fish can thrive outside the water. As those created in God’s image, his law is our roadmap for how to “image” him. His law is our design and our most natural and life-giving habitat.Eugene Peterson tells it true in The Message: “Trivialize even the smallest item in God’s Law and you will only have trivialized yourself.”Although the wisdom of adhering to our design may seem obvious, we still need help. Specifically, we need Scripture and truth-telling friends to anchor us daily in the things that are right, good, and true. Our hearts are deceptive and frail, and therefore capable of justifying even the worst thoughts and words and actions. Our hearts are “prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.” We need frequent reminders that we have not arrived yet and that, as Luther uttered on his deathbed, “We are all beggars, this is true.”Because we are not yet what we are meant to be, we need honest voices in our lives to help us see in ourselves the sin that we cannot see and to confront us when we need confronting.In her excellent book, Hope Has Its Reasons, Rebecca Pippert wrote about how true love detests whatever destroys the people that we love:Real love stands against the deception, the lie, the sin that destroys … The more a father loves his son, the more he hates in him the drunkard, the liar, the traitor.Bonhoeffer said something similar when he said “Nothing can be more compassionate than the severe reprimand which calls another Christian in one’s community back from the path of sin.”King David, ultimately, did not shield himself from critique. This is part of what made him such a great human being. When Nathan the prophet came to him and called him out for the evil in his life, David did not respond by saying, “Who do you think you are, Nathan? Do you know who it is that you are talking to? Where do you get off … ?”Instead, David received Nathan’s confrontation humbly, repented of his sin, and sought to right the wrongs he had done. His story gives us one of the most comprehensive, historic confessions of sin ever offered:Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight … Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart … wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow … Hide your face from my sins … Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit … (Psalm 51:1-19)But David did not only confess his sin to God. He also turned and confessed to Nathan, saying, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Then he turned to Bathsheba, the widowed wife of the soldier that he had murdered, and became her husband.Then, in an act of immense kindness, through Bathsheba God gave David a son whose name, Jedediah, means “Beloved of God.” This son was then given a second name, Solomon, which means “Peace.” This child, born from circumstances involving adultery, murder, and the abuse of power, would later be listed in the ancestry of Jesus as a picture of how long, wide, high, and deep the love of God travels:David was the father of Solomonby the wife of Uriah (Matthew 1:6).Matthew goes out of his way to include that allusion to the unsavory circumstances surrounding Solomon’s birth. He could easily have left out the phrase or said “by Bathsheba” instead of “by the wife of Uriah.” Instead, he helps us see how God worked to redeem the sin that David committed and from which he later repented.As if this weren’t enough grace for David, Jesus—the King of all Kings and Prince of Peace—would later identify himself as “the son of David” and would call David “a man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22).We can learn many things from David. There are many ways that we leaders especially can look to him for inspiration. But one of the most important things we must learn from him is the wisdom of positioning ourselves to invite constructive, redemptive critique from those around us—especially those who know us best, such as colleagues, friends, church leaders, and family members. Our pursuit of character must matter more to us than protecting our reputation. We must learn to love the light, even when it exposes the darkness in us, instead of using our power to run from and hide from the light.This, in spite of his many faults, was where David shined. The aftermath of the Bathsheba scandal presents to us a portrait of greatness—not because David was perfect but because he was ready to own his imperfection and to do so publicly to those he had injured the most. His greatness was found in his readiness to humble himself. In this, we see evidence of the Holy Spirit dwelling within: a willingness to lose face when he could have easily saved face and a readiness to repent when he didn’t have to because he was the one holding all the power.David could have done the same thing to Nathan that he had previously done to Uriah—finish the man off in order to save his own hide and reputation. But he did not. Instead, he chose to listen, humble himself, repent, and right his own wrongs.Writer and philosopher Elbert Hubbard wrote, “The final proof of greatness lies in being able to endure criticism without resentment.” By this standard, David was a great human being.By the mercies of God, may we, likewise, allow ourselves to become great. Please enter your name here dear Scott, I love the idea of not wrestling with pigs. Well written my friend. Fools argue, wise men reason. I have had to work to overcome an contrary spirit and still find myself falling into that disagreeable spirit. Let it be said of us that we never give or take offense. Blessings on you and yours my friend, Charles Towne Mama Mia EJ Don’t wrestle with pigs or wrestle with angry lemons either…….! A lesson for social media debateInspiration Reply July 2, 2017 at 10:02 am Please enter your comment! Angry birds and now angry lemons…..how cute! Reply Mama Mia June 18, 2017 at 1:17 pm Reply June 18, 2017 at 1:20 pm Free webinar for job seekers on best interview answers, hosted by Goodwill June 11 Support conservation and fish with NEW Florida specialty license plate Reply charles towne Thanks Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. The Anatomy of Fear 4 COMMENTS LEAVE A REPLY Cancel reply TAGSInspirationScott Sauls Previous articleHappy Father’s Day Papa GodNext articleTrader Joe’s pulls an ice cream product from its shelves Denise Connell RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR Share on Facebook Tweet on Twitter You have entered an incorrect email address! Please enter your email address here June 18, 2017 at 1:03 pm
27 total views, 1 views today AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to EmailEmailShare to WhatsAppWhatsAppShare to MessengerMessengerShare to MoreAddThis The Practical Fundraising Association will next month launch the Good Fundraising Code for charities and voluntary organisations that wish to demonstrate their commitment to good fundraising practice. There is no membership fee or charge to use the code’s logo.Charities that wish to participate must sign up to confirm that they agree in principle with four simple statements that cover honesty, transparency, abiding by legal requirements and best practice, and having a complaints procedure for supporters.Any charity where a member of the public provides evidence of a breach will not be permitted to use the code.The Practical Fundraising Association set up the code in response to comments from smaller charities that they could not afford the membership fees of the Fund Raising Standards Board. They were worried that causes that did not pay a fee to subscribe to other codes might be perceived as ‘second class’ or ‘lower standard’ in donors’ eyes.Gareth Edwards of the Practical Fundraising Association said he was concerned that the public might discern a two-tier system: “It is important… that there is not a price tag on charities to be seen to follow best practice and be honest and transparent with their supporters”.He was worried that the public “will feel that a charity is somehow less worthy if it does not have a paid-for mark on its fundraising materials. Tiny causes with under £100,000 income in this climate will feel pressured into yet another fee when in actual fact they are doing nothing wrong”.He argued that “it is more important to have some pledge from causes who would struggle to pay a fee to aim for good practice than leave anyone who does not pay totally out in the cold and feeling looked down on”.Sam Wilson of the Fund-raising Standards Board commented: “It’s important that all charities, large or small, can assure their supporters and potential supporters that they fundraise to the highest standards and that they can donate to them with confidence. Membership of the Fundraising Standards Board does exactly that.“We are particularly conscious of the needs of small charities which is why we set and have maintained an annual £30 membership fee for smaller fundraising organisations with voluntary income up to £10k and for those with a voluntary income of between £11k – £50k it’s £50 and for income of £51 – £100k, a fee of £75”.Wilson added: “The PFA is right to be concerned that its members should demonstrate their commitment to good fundraising practice but membership of the FRSB which runs the Government backed UK wide self-regulation scheme, is the best way to do this and will not run the risk of confusing the public.“We would be happy to meet with the PFA to discuss how we can work together to ensure that the public can give to all charities with confidence, whether small or large”.The Good Fundraising Code will be launched on 12 February 2009. Meanwhile the PFA welcomes comments from the sector to influence its development and from charities and consultants who would like to help with the review and appeal process.www.practicalfundraising.com/Page12.aspx?ID=229 About Howard Lake Howard Lake is a digital fundraising entrepreneur. Publisher of UK Fundraising, the world’s first web resource for professional fundraisers, since 1994. Trainer and consultant in digital fundraising. Founder of Fundraising Camp and co-founder of GoodJobs.org.uk. Researching massive growth in giving. Tagged with: Law / policy Practical Fundraising Association to launch Good Fundraising Code Howard Lake | 20 January 2009 | News AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to EmailEmailShare to WhatsAppWhatsAppShare to MessengerMessengerShare to MoreAddThis
Authorities began their successful investigations with a search warrant for a residence in the municipality of Aguachica, Cesar, where the troops, in a support role with Judicial Police personnel, arrested three men, aged 35, 42, and 19, who apparently dedicated themselves to selling fuel from abroad. The contraband seized from those arrested amounted to 7,230 gallons of illegal gasoline, which is equivalent to around 31,000 dollars. Apparently, a portion of that monetary sum used to fund the drug-trafficking networks engaged in criminal activity in this part of the country. By Dialogo April 16, 2012 An intelligence operation conducted by troops of the 5th Brigade of the Colombian National Army enabled the dismantling of an alleged gasoline cartel engaged in criminal activity in southern Cesar.
IMCA Executive Director of Competition Dave Brenn heads up tech inspection at Osborn. OSBORN, Mo. – Opening night events this weekend at US 36 Raceway and Bethany Speedway bring IMCA drivers from across the nation to the Show-Me State. IMCA Modified, IMCA RaceSaver Sprint Car, IMCA Sunoco Stock Car and Karl Kustoms Northern SportMod entries are also in hand from Colorado, Oklahoma, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas, as well as Missouri. As previously announced and emphasized by Boller, social distancing guidelines will be maintained in the pits and grandstand each night. Track officials will ask all race teams to stay within their respective pit area and that everyone attending wear a mask or other appropriate facial covering. Questions about the season-opening weekend can be directed to Boller at 816 752-3645. “We had more than 100 cars practice last Saturday. Once we got to 100, we stopped counting,” continued Boller, looking forward to watching the stars of IMCA vie for the only IMCA Speedway Motors Weekly Racing National, regional, E3 Spark Plugs State and track points to be awarded in Missouri this weekend. “We’ll take as many cars as we can get in the pits using social distancing.” “We’re expecting to get drivers from a couple more states, too. It seems like the number of entries goes up every time I look at my phone,” said promoter Jon Boller Jr., who noted the strong contingent of RaceSaver Sprint Cars making the trip from out east. IMCA drivers from Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio and Indiana join competitors from closer to home on season-opening cards Friday, May 8 at Osborn and Saturday, May 9 at Bethany.
Arik Armstead, USC’s top recruit for its 2012 football recruiting class and brother of current USC senior defensive end Armond Armstead, has rescinded his verbal commitment to USC, according to a Scout.com report.The Elk Grove, Calif., native and Pleasant Grove High School star is Scout’s top overall recruit for the class of 2012 listed as an offensive tackle. Rivals.com — another leading scouting website — listed the younger Armstead as the 26th overall recruit as a defensive end — reportedly his prefered position.“It’s a big factor, wherever I go, that I want to play defense,” Armstead told Scout analyst Brandon Huffman. “So schools recruiting me for offense, they can do that, but they’ll be hard to consider.”Armond Armstead did not receive medical clearance from USC’s medical staff after being hospitalized for an undisclosed condition in March and will not play this season, which factored into Arik Armstead’s decision to decommit.“I’ve been disappointed with the way some of the things have been handled with the school and my family over the last six months,” the younger Armstead told Huffman.Huffman reports Armstead will visit Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., this weekend, where the Fighting Irish are set to host USC.According to Huffman’s report, other teams interested in Armstead include Michigan, California and Alabama.
DENVER — The Sharks, understandably, are staying with the same forward lines and defense pairs for Game 4 of their second round playoff series against the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday.But with the Sharks’ power play struggling to score, it does appear some adjustments are being made to both the first and second units.In their morning skate Thursday, the Sharks had winger Gus Nyquist on the first unit with Brent Burns, Kevin Labanc, Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl. Timo Meier was on the top …
Lufhereng is the biggest housing project in Gauteng. Itumeleng Malebo is already settled in Lufhereng. Minister of Human Settlement Tokyo Sexwale has vowed to root out corruption in social housing. The new township is home to these youngsters. (Images: Bongani Nkosi) MEDIA CONTACTS • Chris Vick, Spokesperson, Department of Human Settlements +27 83 556 7644 or +27 12 421 1645 RELATED ARTICLES • Housing projects to curb SA slums • Soweto housing market soars • Social development in South Africa • Urban housing success storyBongani NkosiAfter living in a Soweto farming settlement without proper shelter for about 15 years, Itumeleng Malebo has finally moved into a new house.Malebo, in his early 30s, is one of the beneficiaries of the Lufhereng housing scheme taking shape on Doornkop and Zuurbult farms in Soweto – South Africa’s largest and most famous township in south-west Johannesburg.The unemployed Malebo moved into his semi-detached house on 14 August 2010, where he stays now with his 20-something cousin, Tshepo Mfati.Soon after relocating, Malebo found a way of keeping hunger at bay by starting a spaza shop, which he runs from one of the bedrooms of the new house.“I opened my shop immediately when I moved in last Friday,” he said.He mostly sells groceries in his fledgling enterprise, and business has been growing gradually as fellow residents trickle into the newly developed area.This is what’s motivating Malebo to expand his small-scale venture: “I want to put in shelves very soon,” he said.The government officially handed over Lufhereng’s completed houses to beneficiaries on 17 August during a ceremony attended by community members and Minister of Housing Tokyo Sexwale.Lufhereng is a combination of Sesotho and Tshivenda words, meaning a place where people come together.Mixed housing optionsSince late 2008 more than 900 houses have been built on the 18 000ha site, which will eventually accommodate between 24 000 and 25 000 dwellings. It’s Gauteng’s biggest government housing project.“Every week we will be moving people into Lufhereng,” said Ruby Mathang, a leading official in the City of Johannesburg’s housing department.The new project’s beneficiaries are primarily Doornkop and Zuurbult farm labourers and residents, as well as people from Protea South informal settlement and elsewhere in Soweto.All these individuals registered for government’s social housing scheme in 1996 and 1997, including 79-year-old pensioner Nomfesane Mthula, who’s lived in the Protea South informal settlement since 1982.Lufhereng is a mixed housing project, meaning it has residences available for free, for the unemployed; and houses for middle- to high-income earners, who qualify for a bond.In the future it will also have houses for rent, schools, a business complex and other facilities.“Families with differing income levels will have access to an array of different accommodation options,” said Johannesburg’s mayor Amos Masondo. “The demand for housing remains high.”Farming to continueThe farmland on which Lufhereng is being built won’t disappear completely, as the government plans to set aside a portion of 480ha for cultivating crops.This will benefit the experienced and aspiring farmers of the area, according to the Gauteng provincial government.Black Economic Empowerment cooperatives will also be able to cash in on the agri-business scheme and Gauteng expects 10 000 jobs to be created through agricultural opportunities there.Breaking new groundThe Lufhereng project is one of many that the government is leading as part of its policy called Breaking New Ground.About 8 000 housing projects are under way across the country thanks to this concept, which aims to speed up development of new formal settlements and eradicate slums.The housing department was allocated R15-billion (US$2-billion) in the 2010 national budget to build new houses and has intensified its fight against corruption, which has plagued the sector over the years and seen many houses being handed over to incorrect owners.The Special Investigating Unit has been roped in to probe 20 “problematic housing projects” across the country, as well as private contractors and employees of the department.
5 October 2010In a bid to exploit South Africa’s abundant sunshine and reduce reliance on mains electricity, Vodacom has launched a low-cost solar-powered mobile phone with the unique ability to charge on the go – even when it’s not in direct sunlight.Developed by Vodafone, the VF 247 has the unique ability to charge on the go, enabling people to benefit from mobile communications even in areas where electricity is scarce.“Cellphones are the primary means of communication for millions of South Africans, and thanks to our association with Vodafone we’re able to supply this new solar-powered handset, which makes it as easy and practical as possible for people to connect,” Vodacom South Africa MD Shameel Joosub said in a statement last week.Integrated solar panelThe VF 247 is designed with an integrated solar panel, saving users both time and money. The special built-in Sun Boost software ensures that the phone charges even when it’s not in direct sunlight.Charging the phone in sunlight for an hour or two every day should be enough to cover the power needs for average users, but if the battery runs low the phone can be topped up with a traditional mains power charger.“In many communities, electricity supplies are intermittent or non-existent, but with this new handset, people won’t have to worry about when they are next going to be able to charge the battery,” said Joosub.“It’s so simple and obvious, but the combination of solar power and a low-cost handset will hopefully make a big difference.”Basic voice and text featuresThe handset has been fitted with a high-temperature battery that can safely withstand increased operational temperatures. To prevent it from failure, an additional temperature protection is also embedded which will switch off any charging should the battery exceed the safe temperature.The VF 247 is an easy-to-use device that has all the basic voice and text features along with FM radio, torch and a colour display.SAinfo reporterWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material
Thomas Piketty garnered international acclaim after his book Capital in the Twenty-First Century, about inequality, became a best seller. But it’s not without its critics. He’ll speak at the 13th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture. Watch him on the live broadcast on 3 October on SABC 2 from 3pm to 4:30pm. There will also be live stream on the Nelson Mandela Foundation YouTube account and website. Thomas Piketty’s book Capital in the Twenty-First Century has been praised and criticised. (Image: Nelson Mandela Foundation, Facebook) • Thomas Piketty to deliver Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture • What South Africa can learn from Piketty about addressing inequality? • Piketty’s contribution to unpacking inequality: timely and relevant • Top 50 Brands in South Africa named • Almost half of African millionaires make South Africa their home Chris Edwards, University of East AngliaThe economic and political focus is increasingly on the inequality of income and wealth as they both rise in Europe and the US. At a conference on Inclusive Capitalism held near the end of May at London’s Guildhall, Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), claimed that rising inequality posed a threat to growth and financial stability and that governments need to narrow the gaps through imposing more progressive taxes.When even the right-wing IMF criticises rising inequality, then perhaps it is no surprise that the publishing world should witness the huge success of a book on inequality written by Thomas Piketty, professor at the Paris School of Economics. What might be more surprising is that one crucial effect of his work might be nothing to with inequality or capital whatsoever, but could instead help to refocus how we study economics and arrive at less biased conclusions.Piketty’s basic argument is simple. He argues that over the past four decades the growth of incomes in the rich countries of Europe and the US has averaged 1% or 2% a year whereas the return on wealth or capital has been running at more than 4% a year. Under such conditions, wealth concentration grows as does political tension. We are, he says, returning to a sort of Downton Abbey world of the late 19th and early 20th century; a “patrimonial” capitalism in which inherited wealth dominates and a world in which the economy is characterised, not by talented individuals, but by family dynasties making up only 1% of the population. To join this exclusive club it is more sensible to marry into wealth than to work for it. It might be said that skiving and seducing are now better than striving (whatever Britain’s prime minister might say).Data minePiketty’s contribution has been to look at the pattern of wealth and income inequality in capitalist economies over at least the past 100 years. He, with the aid of a number of colleagues, has assembled a huge collection of statistics on income and wealth distribution in some 20 countries.What comes out of this is his claim that over the past century in Europe and more particularly in the US, the share of income going to the richest 1% has followed a U-shaped arc. In 1910 the richest 1% received around a fifth of total income in both Britain and the United States. By 1950 that share had been cut by at least half, but since 1980 the share of this 1% has surged so much that in the US that it’s back to where it was a century ago. The same pattern has been followed by the distribution of wealth.This U-shaped arc is the opposite of what was supposed to happen according to Simon Kuznets, a Belarusian-American economist who, in the 1950s, forecast an inverted U-curve for income distribution as an economy grows. In other words, according to Kuznets, as economies mature they are supposed to be more equal. According to Piketty, the opposite is happening with Europe and the US, heading back towards a Dickensian world of inequality.To avoid this, corrective steps are needed. Piketty favours a graduated wealth tax, imposed globally, an income tax of 80% on those with the highest salaries and an enforced transparency for all bank transactions.The controversyPiketty’s book has been broadly supported by economists in the centre of the political spectrum. Paul Krugman (the Nobel Prize-winning US economist based at Princeton University and the op-ed columnist for the New York Times) has praised it profusely. There have been attacks from both the political left and the right but particularly from the right. The Wall Street Journal has been apoplectic and the London-based Financial Times has been none too pleased.In these circles of the political right, arguments about the distribution of income and wealth invariably follow two routes. One is to deny that the rich are doing exceptionally well. The other is to claim that the rich deserve their soaring incomes and wealth and are really job creators not predators.The first of these counterattacks was launched by Chris Giles, the FT’s economics editor. He argued that Piketty was wrong to claim that inequality has grown over the past 40 years in Europe and the US. Statistics on income and wealth distribution are problematic. But, in my experience, income and wealth equality is generally over-stated rather than under-stated in rich countries – and this is true of the UK . It is to Piketty’s credit that he has shown all the statistics that he has used and he has said that: “I have no doubt that my historical data series can be improved and will be improved in the future”.In the meantime the general conclusion about the attack on Piketty by the FT seems to be summed up by the centre-right Economist magazine, namely that “the analysis does not seem to support many of the allegations made by the FT or the conclusion that the book’s argument is wrong”.Thus, the counterattack seems to fail. Inequality does seem to have increased over the past 40 years in Europe and the US. What about the second defence? Do the rich deserve their soaring incomes and wealth? Piketty argues “no” because the marginal productivity of managers is unmeasurable and economic performance has not improved since the 1960s while the pay of top managers has exploded.A critical assessment from the left has come from David Harvey, a Marxist professor at the City University of New York. Harvey criticises his book on a number of grounds. Here I have the space to focus on just one, namely Piketty’s failure to make the link between the increase in inequality, the financial crisis in 2008 and the recession that followed. Harvey argues that a rise in inequality increases the likelihood of slow growth as demand dries up and under-consumption takes hold.Interestingly, Harvey’s focus on the link between inequality and slow growth brings us back to the IMF in which a recent study by a number of economists finds that countries with high levels of inequality have suffered lower growth than nations that have distributed incomes more evenly.Despite his misgivings, Harvey does praise Piketty’s collection of statistics and it is here that we might find a final, and possibly enduring legacy from Piketty’s work.Krugman has said Piketty’s work will “change both the way we think about society and the way we do economics”. Perhaps. If the latter is true, it will be a breath of fresh air to those groups of students who have protested recently about the non-empirical, neo-liberal bias in the teaching of economics in British universities. It might be too much to hope that we can entirely detach macroeconomics from ideology, but the weight of authority brought by Piketty’s – and his colleagues’ – reliance on deep data analysis might at least offer us a blueprint for a better way of debating the dismal science.Chris Edwards, External Research Associate, , University of East AngliaThis article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.
For several weeks now, I’ve addressed tax credits for home energy improvements. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provides a 30% tax credit for a wide range of energy measures, including efficiency retrofits, better heating and cooling equipment, and renewable energy systems, including solar water heating and photovoltaics, which I discussed last week.The other renewable energy system covered by this program is wind power. Home-scale wind turbines rated at less than 100 kilowatts (kW) are eligible for the 30% tax credit with no cap on the dollar amount that can be received.As readers of this column know, I’m a big fan of wind power. I believe that utility-scale wind farms provide the easiest, fastest way for our nation to obtain a significant fraction of our electricity from renewable energy sources. When we couple wind-generated electricity with effective, affordable ways to store energy (such as thermal energy storage systems that produce ice when excess power is available, and then use that ice for cooling during times of peak electricity demand), potential exists for producing as much as 20% of our nation’s electricity — perhaps even more — using wind.I can also get excited about small, residential-scale wind turbines, but there are some important caveats to note. For starters, it takes an exceptional site for wind turbines to really make sense. For a wind turbine to be cost-effective, you really want to have average winds of 12-15 miles per hour (mph). A lot of people think they live in windy places, but after testing find that average annual wind speeds are only a few mph — not enough to productively generate electricity. Most places where you would want a house are not windy enough to justify a wind turbine.Second, to work effectively, a wind turbine has to be on a tall tower — usually 100 feet or higher. If a manufacturer claims that you can put a wind turbine on your roof or that a 25-foot tower is adequate, don’t believe it unless you collect actual data with an anemometer at that height and find consistently high wind speeds.Third, with wind energy there’s a good reason that manufacturers have produced ever-larger wind turbines since the early 1970s. (We’ve seen a thousand-fold increase in size, from a few kW in the ’70s to a few MW for utility-scale wind turbines today.) There’s a tremendous economy of scale with wind turbines. Larger turbines are more efficient and much less expensive per unit of electricity produced. Small, residential-scale turbines, even on a good site, are expensive. Properly installed on a tall tower, such a system will easily cost $60,000 to $80,000.Fourth, there is no consistent testing or even standards for reporting the performance of wind turbines. It is not unusual to hear about a wind turbine being rated at 10 kW, and then reading the fine print to find out that that level of performance assumes a 35- or 40-mph wind (conditions you’re almost never going to experience). This will begin to change once the Small Wind Certification Council’s new standards for wind turbine testing and reporting are in place and independent testing of wind turbines begins.This brings us back to the 30% federal tax credit for small-scale wind turbines. Without consistent standards for reporting of wind turbine output and without any requirements for third-party certification of actual performance, there is the very real concern — indeed likelihood — that fraud will become common with the wind energy tax credits. I will not be at all surprised to hear about rooftop-mounted wind turbines being marketed at grossly inflated prices to allow buyers to reap larger tax credits, with some of the buyer’s cost premium refunded as special pyramid-scheme sales bonuses: the sort of scams we saw appear with the solar tax credits of the late 1970s and early ’80s. Meanwhile, these rooftop-mounted turbines will do almost nothing to reduce a homeowner’s electricity costs or achieve the sort of societal benefits promised through the Recovery Act.The bottom line is that the 30% federal wind-energy tax credit — and any other incentives for small-scale wind energy — should be modified as quickly as possible so that the tax credit can be earned only for certified wind turbines. And, despite the complexity of doing so, such incentives should be modified so that the credit is awarded not based on the cost of wind energy equipment, but rather on the productivity of that equipment. If these changes aren’t made, my fear is that the reputation of those really good, reputable manufacturers of small-scale wind turbines, companies like Bergey Windpower and Southwest Windpower, will be tarnished in a wave of bad publicity.I invite you to share your comments on this blog.To keep up with my latest articles and musings, you can sign up for my Twitter feeds.