The Guide to the American Dream

Why We Defend the American Dream




Land Use

Open Space


Smart-Growth Disasters


Public Health & Safety


The term "American dream" conveys many different images: raising a family, owning your own home, traveling to new adventures on the open road, starting a successful business. All of these images depend on the personal and economic freedom that Americans take for granted.

When government interferes with our freedom, it makes the American dream less attainable for some or all Americans. "The American government is excellent," wrote Henry David Thoreau, "yet this government never of itself furthered any enterprise, but by the alacrity with which it got out of its way."

To protect everyone's American dream, the American Dream Coalition supports giving people freedom of choice in how they use their land and what forms of transportation they use, provided only that people pay the full costs of their choices. We do not advocate that people drive everywhere or live in low-density suburbs, but we believe these are legitimate choices. We do not oppose high-density housing or public transit, but we do oppose planning efforts that attempt to force high-density housing on people or to build wildly expensive rail transit lines that few people will ride.

This Guide to the American Dream will examine several important topics: automobility, transit, congestion, housing, land use, open space, air pollution, and public safety. As appropriate for each topic, the guide will:

  • Present our positions;
  • Demystify popular myths;
  • Analyze the best available data;
  • Provide access to experts and recent publications; and
  • Show how people can get more information about their local areas.

Most of the Guide is in the form of web pages. But these pages link to some files that are PDFs, word processor documents, Excel spreadsheets, or PowerPoint slideshows. Nearly all of the linked files are on the American Dream Coalition's web site, so there should be no broken links (if you find one, please report it to us).

Your web browser is probably configured to open non-web files using the help of other programs on your computer. If your computer does not have PowerPoint, you can download a free PowerPoint Viewer from Microsoft. Some of the PowerPoint files are very large -- between 20 and 45 megabytes. If you have a slow connection and don't want to download these or other large files, you can order this entire Guide in CD form from the American Dream Coalition.