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  • Green Jobs or Green Gyms?

    How do you solve homelessness, obesity and global warming all at once? A green gym, of course:

    Cass Community Social Services (Cass) will further its commitment to the Detroit community and the environment on Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 9:00 am when it opens the doors to its Green Gym. The Green Gym is the nation’s first workout facility created specifically for homeless men, women and children. The grand opening of the Green Gym will mark a revolutionary step by Cass to improve its carbon footprint, reduce its energy costs and improve the quality of life for Detroit’s most at-risk citizens.

    The Green Gym will be the first of its kind. Nowhere else in the country have such innovations been implemented for the benefit of homeless citizens. In addition to standard fitness equipment such as two weight machines, boxing bags, and a treadmill, 10 Green Revolution Technology™ enabled stationary bikes will generate electricity to be redirected into Cass’ power grid. Over one year of four daily classes, a full class of 10 at the Green Gym can generate enough power to light 36 homes for a month, or three homes for a year!

    “Not only is this gym a good idea for the environment, but it will help build the general health of our clients who often struggle with diabetes or heart disease associated with obesity and weight gain,” states Rev. Faith Fowler, Cass executive director. “Stationary bikes offer accessible exercise for most levels of fitness and create an atmosphere for our growing healthy community.”

    The organization running the program, Cass Community Social Services, is a non-profit so it can choose to spend its money how it pleases. But there is a significant opportunity cost here; resources spent on a green gym could have been spent elsewhere more prudently – trying to save the environment is spreading the Cass’s initiative too thin. Or why not pay the homeless if they’re providing a service?

    It also goes to show how inefficient “green energy” really is. Assuming that Cass meets the goal of four daily classes of 10 homeless people riding bikes for an entire year is met, it will power three homes in that year. This is the green mantra: more jobs per kilowatt hour is a good thing. To show how inefficient green energy is, Heritage economist David Kreutzer points to a “1945 issue of Mechanix Illustrated. It shows a cyclist pedaling a jerry-rigged generator to power hair dryers in a Parisian beauty salon. Though not the sort of green job that is currently talked about, this human-powered generator illustrates why costly energy policies are not a stimulus.

    A person on a bicycle generator would do very well to average 150 watts of output during a day. At this level, a modern-day cyclist/generator could produce electricity worth 10-15 cents per day at retail prices. With sufficient subsidies, people could be induced to power such generators and the proponents could then point to the “green” jobs that have been “created.” What is not seen is the value of the cyclists’ forgone output elsewhere. Even at minimum wage, the value of the labor is $52.40 per day. So each human powered generator would shrink the economy by over $50 per day. This is not an economic stimulus.”

    Proponents of renewable energy argue that since windmills and solar panels create more jobs per kilowatt hour than more traditional sources of energy, they are a good investment. But this logic should not be the measuring stick for implementing new energy sources—it proves only that clean energy sources are an inefficient use of human capital and these resources could be more beneficial in other sectors of the economy.

    President Obama’s State of the Union address will likely focus on jobs, jobs, jobs. One would think a big part of that message will be green jobs. But if Spanish experience with a green job initiative is any preview of what would happen in the United States, green policies will destroy more jobs than it creates – and cost the taxpayers at the same time. Spain spent $8 billion a year on green energy subsidies. The result is that for every green job created, 2.2 jobs were lost because so much money was taken out of viable parts of the economy and put into a more unreliable green market. There’s that opportunity cost problem again.

    Posted in Energy [slideshow_deploy]

    17 Responses to Green Jobs or Green Gyms?

    1. Aurea Astro says:

      Sometimes we must move backwards to move forwards. Are these specific opportunity costs purely financial?

    2. TonyfromOz says:


      Again, this is another classic example of misdirection from the renewable power spruikers. The article says:

      Over one year of four daily classes, a full class of 10 at the Green Gym can generate enough power to light 36 homes for a month, or three homes for a year!

      The thing to look at here is the part where it says 'enough power to light'.

      The impression is that all this work on the bikes can supply all the power for these three homes for a year is in fact quite spurious. It only provides enough power to light those three homes for a year, in other words to supply the power to run the lighting in those three homes for a year.

      Lighting in a residential household application only consumes 8.8% of the overall electrical power consumed in a residence.

      So here we have the people on the bikes working flat out to generate what amounts to a really tiny amount of electrical power.

      The same applies with every 'blurb' out there which is used to give details on renewable power plants.

      The claim is that they provide enough power to power 'X' number of houses for a year, again giving the impression that this renewable plant provides all the power for all those homes for all of the year.

      In fact, it is carefully worked out how much usable power is generated by the plant in a given year.

      They then use the average power consumed in a US residential application, divide that individual total into the maximum produced by the plant and, viola, the plant can supply 'X' number of household residences.

      Solar plants can supply power for on average 5 hours a day, and the same applies for wind power plants, so the plant in no way, EVER. supplies all the power requirements for that residence for the whole year.

      A clever use of wording to hide the truth in plain sight, thus giving an entirely false representation.

      So, the gym bikes will be providing 8.8% of the residential requirements for three houses for one year.

      Very clever. Sucks everybody into believing that something is actually being achieved.

    3. republicanblack says:

      Well, the cap and trade legislation and global warming debate is much more profound than what is being said. I think us conservatives and republicans have it wrong when it comes to global warming. Before I thought that green technology and water conservation was too much, but after looking at this article I have come to the understanding that maybe, it is not so bad of an idea, I would like to share it with you and I hope you come to my same conclusion, I'm sure you will:


    4. Pingback: PA Pundits - International

    5. Brad Johnson says:

      Too bad the Spanish "green jobs are evil" report has been totally debunked. Unlike Heritage, I think we should support energy policies that create jobs, even if ones that instead create pollution are a more "efficient" use of "human capital."

    6. Drew Page, IL says:

      Nowhere does it say how much it cost to build, staff and maintain this "green gym". My guess is that the construction costs of building the gym alone probably ran into the millions, not to mention the cost of staffing and maintaining the facility. Is it the governments contention that the "energy production" expected to provide electric power for three homes for a year will make the gym cost neutral?

      I suppose it may give the homeless a place to get in out of the cold, but I don't think that losing weight is the most important thing on a person's mind who has no money, no job and no home.

    7. Bill, Danville, VA says:

      The lack of basic economic education in this country is appalling. Efficient use of resources, whether they be natural, financial, or human provides a higher standard of living. To put a stationary bicycle in everyone's home so they can provide their own energy by riding all day would save a lot of fuel but would not provide much in the way of economic development.

      For those who think it is a good idea to raise the price of energy so renewables can compete, all I can say is do you pay the bills in your household, do you have to balance where the money goes, and if your utility bill doubles or triples where will you get the money to pay it?

    8. Obrian - Idaho says:

      My first thought is, Has anyone watched "The Matrix" lately? Poor people slaves generating power for those in nice comfortable homes. I suppose that these people will not be exhaling any carbon dioxide while doing the generating.

      There is no such thing as a "free lunch" or "free energy". Work has to be done to generate power and work has waste byproducts. (heat, carbon dioxide, etc.) Even electric Hydrogen cars require energy input to produce the hydrogen in the first place. Where does that power come from? A coal or oil fired power plant in someone else's state or community? Nothing is free!

    9. Christine, Williamsb says:

      Kudos to my hometown, Detroit, for providing such a noteworthy solution to homelessness, obesity, and global warming. Who knew there were so many homeless people who have nothing else to concentrate on than their exercise quota for the week, and who are excited about the chance to "be green" to boot? Just another example of the ridiculous efforts of the feel-gooders. I can't even call them do-gooders, because I can't see much good at all in this endeavor.

    10. Spencer Hayes says:

      I am involved heavily with Cass Community Social Services so I can give a little background information that might lessen some of the semi-hostile comments.

      The Green Gym is a very generous name for what was constructed, it is very basic with only your essential equipment including the 10 bikes. All of the money and equipment for the gym was provided via donation, no million dollar spending sprees or taxed dollars from the public.

      Cass runs on a mantra of "Fighting Poverty, Creating Opportunity" it is understandable that when you see something like this it might seem like a waste, it's natural to say why do we need that when these people could be receiving far more essential services.

      Cass already provides those services, they house men, women and children that are Detroit's most "at risk" citizens. This means that they are not just homeless because they didn't feel like getting a job, it means they can't get a job. The people at Cass are physically or mentally disabled, many with severe learning disorders or other medical conditions that prohibit them from having the chance to function in regular society. It's not that riding a bike to stay healthy is more important then food or shelter, Cass offers those as well, it's the fact that the health aspect is an often overlooked aspect for people that are already overlooked.

      Furthermore Cass is the only place in Detroit that tends to men with HIV/Aids, they also have a free clinic. Many shelters sort children and adults, but Cass is one of the few places in the country that allows the mother and children to live in the same place, creating an experience that is not so harsh on the families.

      The Green Gym was created as part of their Green Initiatives. Currently they are able to help out the environment, while providing vocational opportunities to men and women that would otherwise be unemployed throughout their lifetime. They turn abandoned tires (A huge problem in what used to be the "Motor City") into mud mats, they shred documents (Most of the people working their can't read, so your documents could never be safer!).

      Cass follows their mantra by stepping out of the box and creating a lifestyle that is not cut and dry essentials, but actually allows them to lead lives they most likely would have never dreamed of.

      The Green Gym was not created so mentally handicapped homeless people could power Cass, it was created because the people at Cass LOVE these types of "events." The Green Gym will help out the health of the staff, residents and volunteers (It is not a Lifetime Fitness, it's not open to the public), provide jobs for people that never dreamed of having one and help the environment (Even if the results aren't extraordinary, every little bit makes a difference).

      I can fully understand why this concept may be off putting for some people, why you might think it's a stupid idea, or that it's a waste, but if you could come to Cass and see the effect these initiatives have on people who would otherwise be hopeless, I think some of you would change your tune.

      I want to thank you for writing this story and I just hope that I might have cleared up some of your questions or skepticism. We appreciate any and all support of Cass Community Social Services because they are dedicated to helping people in Detroit who need it the most!


    11. philip hilliker says:

      Anoter freebe at the tax payers exspence.Well what can america exspect from Detroit.Ware the unions caused the auto industery to become not competable causeing the closing of plants and job loss,and receveing bail outs at tax payers exspence from the goverment for their politcal support with funds from uion mrmber dues to the libers candates. That the people of the state elected so with so many of mich. population out of work they need somthing to do

    12. Larry M., Wichita Fa says:

      In addition to the cost of the gym, its supplies, staff, and maintenace, the bicyclist, who pedals for 6 hours, will probably need 10,000 calories in food to sustain himself. He will probably eat 2 to 3 times his normal amount of food

      (much less saved).

    13. Tim Az says:

      I suspect Mao-Bama is angry with the American citizenry for rejecting his socialist agenda. I believe he will punish Americans by pushing green jobs knowing that his policy will result in further job losses and advance the country closer to socialism. If he is able to get health care passed that may just be enough for him to collapse the dollar before health care can be nuetralized either legislatively or through the courts. That said I think health care can be vaporized once and for all.

    14. Lloyd Scallan - New says:

      Republicanblack reads a blog by Jackman (a dedicated leftist) and believes it.

      Amazingly navie! If republicanblack would take the same amout of time to read

      the numbers of "factual" articles and blogs that revile that this entire "global warming" or "man made climate change" is an absolute farce, she/he would soon realize just how much fraudulent and outright distorted info is being pushed by Obama and his ilk (the socialist left), for the expressed purpose of destroying the capitalist system of the United States. Everything from melting glaciers to shrinking ice caps to temperature rises, has all been falsified and manipulated to provide the results the left needs to justify their plans to drag this nation into the pit of socialism. If those such as republicanblack, that claim to be a conserative and a republican, does not strive to learn the true facts of what the Obama view for this country is, we're all doomed.

    15. Nicolas Loris Nick Loris says:


      The piece certainly wasn't meant to attack Cass or the tremendous work they do. It was meant to look at the green promotion that largely dominated the press release and make a larger point about the inefficiencies of spending taxpayer dollars to on renewable energy. And it's not that we're anti-renewable energy, either, but we believe it should left for the market to decide the best use of resources.

      And the Spanish jobs study was not debunked. The critique was seriously flawed. http://www.foundry.org/2009/09/03/subsidized-gr

    16. Spencer Hayes says:

      My point is that there was no taxpayer money, none. Nobody in Michigan or anywhere else paid a penny for this unless they donated it to Cass themselves.

      I know the green aspects dominated the release (which I wrote) but that was for the media (must have worked!).

      The Green aspect is just an additional benefit, the main focus is to provide "At-Risk" citizens (Read mentally, physically handicapped) with vocational opportunities as well as allow the residents of Cass (Who are homeless, but live in a shelter at Cass) to improve their health.

      Many foods that are provided for homeless citizens are not healthy, because an individual looks overweight, does not necessarily mean they are dining on a feast every night.

      Trust me, I'm aware that working out isn't a top priority, but Cass already covers those priorities, they are just trying to branch out into other fields with innovative ideas.

      Remember their mantra "Fighting Poverty, Creating Opportunity" and this initiative does just that.

      I realize you weren't trying to bash Cass and I appreciate you saying they do tremendous work, its just a sensitive subject for me personally and many of the blogs and comments on the blogs have been filled with ignorance.

      Like I said, I can see where the critics are coming from, but they lack the proper insight until they can witness Cass firsthand.

      Thanks for writing about Cass and responding to my comment, Good Luck with everything.

    17. Fred Thompson says:

      The president has proposed $2.3 billion in tax credits to retrofit/build structures for energy conservation. He claims that this will create 17,000 jobs. Doing the math, this works out to be $135,300 per job for this tax expenditure. Is the president mathematically challenged? Does he make such proposals to create press releases with buzz? Or is it because the proposal is "off budget" and doesn't add to the deficit? (Or maybe all of the above.)

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