• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Beyond the American Dream: Those Amazing Americans!

    “That core idea of America—that if you work hard, if you do right, if you’re responsible, that you can lead a better life and most importantly pass on a better life to your kids—that American Dream feels like it’s getting further and further out of reach.”

    Who said this last week to justify his decision to run for President?

    Was it Herman Cain, who pitched himself as the “American Dream” candidate? Or was it Tim Pawlenty, who kicked off his campaign last month with a promise “to keep the American Dream alive”? Or was it perhaps Mitt Romney, who blames President Obama’s policies for “smothering the American Dream”?

    Actually, it wasn’t any one of them. This plea to save the American Dream wasn’t even made by a conservative. The words are President Obama’s, whose autobiography, it is worth remembering, is subtitled Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream.

    The American Dream—why it’s threatened and how to save it—is on everyone’s lips and minds these days (that the left and the right disagree on what needs to be done to save it goes without saying). And it’s not just because the country is switching into electoral mode. Our perilous finances do indeed threaten future generations.

    But isn’t there more to America than the American Dream? Does the promise of a comfortable material existence and good career opportunities for one’s kids really exhaust the meaning of America? Does America, the greatest experiment in liberty the world has yet seen, ultimately bottom out on a big house and a college fund?

    If so, then Denmark, Canada, and Singapore would appear to be more American than America itself. They do rank higher than the U.S. on the Index of Economic Freedom, after all.

    Surely that can’t be the whole case. For all its importance to our way life, the American Dream of social mobility and prosperity ultimately does not do full justice to our country. America is ultimately much more than the American Dream. America is first and foremost about self-government and the character of a free people whose “vigilant and manly spirit” jealously guards their freedom.

    As the Declaration of Independence explains, in America liberty is not only a right but a duty.

    It’s in this spirit that we are launching this new blog series about the American character called Those Amazing Americans. As I explained in a short podcast, self-government and the American character are inextricably bound together.

    America is the land of the free—that doesn’t only mean free to buy things and get ahead in life. It also means free to govern ourselves, to maintain the habits of a free people, to preserve the spirit of liberty that actuates us. The Founders sought to prove to the world that societies of men are capable of reflection and choice in establishing good government. Our task remains, as always, to prove that such a republican government can be maintained.

    Posted in First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    10 Responses to Beyond the American Dream: Those Amazing Americans!

    1. Henry says:

      America has not had leaders in decades ( we must require great leaders). Look at what we have Reid, Peliso, Rangel, Conyers, Watters, weiner , and the list goes on through the Senate and Congress. We have men and women that should never, never, ever been elected to office. America spends billions on elections, for nothing. We put in a black president so the democrates will win. Still another president that should never be in office. So this tells me it makes zero difference who is in Washington.

      But wait, it does make a difference. American is in big trouble and the nuts we have in Washington certainly has no clue. We have intelligent people in America so why do we get the bottom of the barrel to lead the American people.

      Until we the American people take away the money machine in Washington we will continue to get the bottom of the barrel leaders. They cannot run education, the post office, social security, medicare, medicaid, med. this or med. that. WASHINGTON CANNOT RUN ANYTHING!

    2. George Colgrove, VA says:


      I agree with you – DC cannot run anything! This is something I have been looking into. The 2005 BRAC is a perfect and egregious example of what the federal workforce is capable of without leadership. Since 9/11, there has been virtually a leadership void in DC. What hurts is this is the DoD who are supposed to be protecting this country. Now there are some really bad, but also some things that could be better, but are promises. Here is a comparison on how our future is being wasted.

      GAO evaluation on the massive costs overruns of the projects


      - The 2005 BRAC – the fifth in a series – is “the biggest, most complex, and costliest BRAC round ever.”

      - “Before it can realize savings from BRAC, DoD must first invest billions in facility construction, renovation, and other up-front expenses,”

      - The Pentagon will spend nearly $35 billion to implement the 2005 BRAC list. The initial cost estimate of the 2005 BRAC was pegged at $21 billion. An increase of $14 billion dollars – pure waste!

      - The report noted that all previous BRACs cost the taxpayers roughly $25 billion combined or an average of $6.25 billion a piece – and these were likely overprices as well!.

      DC area BRACs to consider:

      The federal govenment is considering selling off over 22,000 buildings and land since the use of each are either low or the buildings are empty.

      Keep in mind this is office space for Public Workers and in one case hospital space for soldiers – all of which are supported by a 57% unfunded federal discretionary budget!

      When this project was conceived (2005), the United States had been using deficit spending for three years. Meaning the federal government was not fully funded by legislation (on purpose). The nation racked up $950 billion in debt from 2002 to 2005. FY2006 budget was showing a $250 billion deficit. It was clear that the federal government was not fully funded and that money had to be closely watched. Cost cutting was a concern and the concept of consolidation was paramount, thus the 2005 BRAC. The DoD was on a hiring binge and also needed places to house these new unfunded federal workers (totaling 300,000 by 2011). So the problem was twofold.

      Office construction ranges can go from $60 to $200 per sq ft costs for the typical office environment. If cost were a factor, there are effective and attractive construction methods that cost $100 per sq. ft. or less. I have looked at some building purchases and construction in the DC area and a good high-end private sector construction costs hovers around $240/sq. ft. Efficiently laid out office space is mostly cubicle space with about 25% to 35% dedicated to mostly halls, but also utilities, kitchens, restrooms, conference rooms, storage, and additional space for higher-end offices.

      Each worker should have an 8’ x 8’ cubical has 64 sq ft to work in. Factor that up by 35% (upper end) to account for the rest of the space. This will result with each worker having their share of the space of 183 sq ft – I will round this to 200 sq ft per worker for good measure. Apply the $240/sq. ft. costs; you end up with $48,000 per worker. Cost effective Cubicles costs should hover around $4,000 and the furniture for higher-end offices should hover around $10,000. I would say the average furniture cost should not top $5,000 per worker – average.

      To make a building LEED compliant, the costs are upwards of $5 per sq ft. Most construction can do it for $2 per sq. ft. and it can be as low as 60 cents per sq. ft. The higher-end LEED costs for each worker should be around $1000. That puts a per worker cost at $54,000. Construction usually includes a percentage for contingencies (unknown incidental costs) of about 5%. But since this is government, I will add 10% to the above costs. I will also add 10% for higher security measures. So in my estimation, a per worker costs should be $65,000 – rounded up – or $325 / sq ft total costs.

      Had the federal workforce made cost a factor and attempted to eliminate or at least minimize luxuries (i.e. kept costs to $100/ sf costs, $2/sf LEED costs and 5% contingencies), these costs could have been as low as $30,000 per worker or $150 per sq. ft. or less than 50% of luxury office building expenses.

      For lack of a better measure, for Hospital space, I will double the per worker costs since there will also be patients/equipment. I will apply a 50% reduction the per worker cost comparison as a correction.

      I am assuming the unfunded $35 billion the BRAC is costing the nation for generations to come includes all of the above.

      A fluff (excessiveness) factor is per worker cost divided by per square foot cost as they relate to the private sector. A number below one shows a highly efficient building design. This means the closer the sq ft costs are to $150 the taxpayer can be assured the federal workforce was looking out for them – in other words – cost was a concern. This essentially means, the creature comforts or excessive costs (i.e. wide open spaces, atriums, gyms, cafeterias, etc) are low. A number above one means that creature comforts are costing the effectiveness of the building. The higher the number, the more the federal workforce looked out for themselves at the cost of taxpayer. A factor of one is optimal creature comfort to building costs.

      Of the Two Biggest Taxpayer Abusers:

      GAO 2010 Report:

      (1) National Geospatial Agency BRAC 168 – Tech Center/Office – 8,500 workers @ $2.48 billion – 2.41M SF

      $1,029 per sq ft (317% higher than private sector luxury office construction)

      $291,765 per worker (449% higher than private sector luxury office construction)

      Fluff factor = 1.42 (449%/317%)

      Cost increase of $710 million between 2008 – 2010

      Has a resort appeal inside an excessively large atrium that can fit the Statue of Liberty. It rivals any high-end hotel or mall settings.

      This building is also a tech center with labs, which may have marginal reduction effects on the large fluff factor.

      GAO 2010 Report:

      (2) Washington Headquarters Services BRAC 133 – Office – 6,400 workers @$1.38 billion – 1.8M SF

      $767 per sq ft (236% higher than private sector luxury office construction)

      $215,625 per worker (332% higher than private sector luxury office construction)

      Fluff Factor = 1.41

      Cost increase $330 million between 2008 – 2010

      An administrative office building.

      Has ground to roof glassed in atriums and $600,000 statues.

      Some somewhat cost effective comparisons:

      March 2009:

      Missile Defense Agency BRAC 134 – Office – 292 workers @ $37.8 million – 99K SF

      $382 per sq ft (117% higher than private sector luxury office construction)

      $129,452 per worker (199% higher than private sector luxury office construction)

      Fluff Factor = 1.70 (The worst in this bunch)

      Cost reduction of $700,000 between 2008 – 2009

      Has a relatively good sq. ft. cost, but has a very high per worker cost. The building is the smallest and least expensive however, which may account for this high ratio.

      March 2009:

      Ft Belvoir Community Hospital BRAC 169 – Hospital – 3,200 workers @ $0.81 billion – 1.3M SF

      $623 per sq ft (192% lower than private sector luxury office construction – factored down)

      $253,125 per worker (195% higher than private sector luxury office construction – factored down)

      Fluff factor = 1.02

      This building had a high relative cost, but has a reasonable fluff factor.

      Pictures of lobbies, foyers, and patients rooms release from this unfunded project shows needless excessiveness for a non-profit hospital building constructed from non-existant public funds.

      My winner for most cost effective BRAC structure

      March 2009:

      Joint-Use Intelligence Analysis Facility BRAC 167 – Office – 1,046 workers @ $64 million – 170K SF

      $376 per sf. ft. (116% of private sector luxury office construction)

      $61,186 per worker (94% of private sector luxury office construction)

      Fluff Factor = 0.81

      Cost increase of $2 million between 2008 – 2009

      Very efficient building that closely matches what I perceive luxury private sector construction is and shows comparable limits on creature comforts. This building is an attractive building, but the costs clearly shows that the taxpayer was a concern – to a point. This building should have cost 50% less – had cost been a true concern.

      Keep in mind, the DoD used deficit spending for this construction. My comparisons above are for Luxury office space. Had cost been a factor, first this work would <b<not have been done, rather cost cutting (reduction in staff, consolidations, etc) would have been done back in 2005 and all hiring stopped long before 2005. Second to get a clear idea on how expensive this was in comparison, my cost comparisons should be multiplied by 2.17 to see how much more the DoD spent then they should have. These structures are not Private Sector and will never generate revenue to pay this expense back. Rather we will pay interest on this for decades to come. Lawsuits are mounting, massive transportation solutions are now being developed and the DoD continues to hire in mass. The mounting costs and overspending on this project will likely result in the taxpayer not seeing any savings long into the future – if ever.

      What bothers me about this demonstration is that the larger the construction, the higher the unit costs were – for the most part. This is opposite of the private sector – or construction in general. There are unit cost benefits of building larger structures as the unit cost of materials and labor normally go down as the project size increases.

    3. jweb says:

      The link below is to a 30 minute animated film about the American dream…very funny, yet true.

      Strange how Heritage doesn't post some of my comments. Don't tell me your like the NRA who prefers the right/left conflict to generate funds.


    4. Todd - Virginia says:

      Great comments Henry!

    5. Kim says:

      RE: "As the Declaration of Independence explains, in America liberty is not only a right but a duty."

      The Declaration of Independence does not explain that liberty is a duty, it simply asserts that it is a duty to oppose threats to liberty. No explanatory reason is given.

      This is important because a duty-based ethics such as Kant's is fundamentally totalitarian and hence incompatible with liberty.

    6. Larry White says:

      As daunting as the Obama Adminisitration's and Liberal Government's burdens are on "Those Amazing Americans", some are still excelling in one of America's most powerful qualities…Innovation!

      Free people, free enterprise, capitalism and individual property rights (most of which did not exist before our Declaration of Independence – Thanks MR Jefferson and friends)- all of which are necassary to Sustain Innovation.

      Richard Branson, you've heard of, and Burt Rutan, you probably have not heard of… Burt is One of Those Amazing Americans who is about to put private passangers in space. Mr. Rutan is an aviation genius …AND an American.

      See the latest videos (2 "The Dream" and The Real Thing" ) of this American Innovation on the Alerts, May 14,2011 page my site Capitalist Workers of America.org.

      In spite of Surpressing Government!.

    7. Bobbie says:

      the American dream, whether right or wrong, is in each individual heart with the basic foundation of freedom and liberty guiding that dream. Nobody can define it but our individual selves.

      Under freedom, people have mutual agreements and common ideas but for some reason "individual freedom" is losing it's bearings? Too many people are misled into understanding "freedom" being their life's expenses. Everybody wants government recognition to have "rights" specifically to themselves. Because I'm gay, I'm protected and I have the "right…" because I'm black I'm protected and have the "right…?" because I'm Muslim I'm protected and have the "right…?" THIS ISN'T AMERICA!

      Government has no right exemplifying discrimination. Discrimination is my right! Government being paid by tax dollars of all human kind has NO RIGHT TO USE TAX DOLLARS TO DISCRIMINATE but only to use in common interests of all human kind!

      People who disapprove of America or too timid to take on their freedom or the responsibilities to their freedom without infringing on people, have no reason to be in America.

      No one should allow themselves to be influenced by a man's American dream written in a book who's steps and authority are taking the simple dream of America's freedom to work and earn a living freely and independently, AWAY! Books are nice to read, just stand strong for who you are. And NEVER judge a book by it's cover!

    8. Carol,AZ says:

      Thank you Henry,,

      I agree with you 100%. However I want to point one example of what, "Those Amazing Americans" are doing for us, right now.

      It's a stunning example of the American spirit, and Americanism.

      Reported by our local news media, AZ has over 4000 fire fighters who have volunteered from divisions from across America. We are fighting a fire storm, Dantes' Inferno times ten called the Wallow fire.Today, day 13, the firestorm is only 6% contained and has burned 408,887 acres.

      Under reported, are three other fires that have been raging throughout other areas of AZ. Reported now as , contained.

      8000 Arizonians were froced to evacuate their homes.

      Most have now returned and 29 homes have been destroyed without loss of life.

      Thousands of animals have been evacuated by volunteers that came from various parts of AZ with huge cattle transports and horse trailers to move animals to safe ground so families could evacuate safely.

      The staging areas for livestock is staffed entirely by volunteers. All care given and all feed, hay and grain donated by other Arizonians, until the owners can reclaim them.

      Thousand of us have domated food and money for supplies to feed the men and woman now here helping us, working 12 hour shifts.

      Local TV stations held fund raisers for donation to the Red Cross, supported by local banks and businesses kicking off, by writing checks for large donations

      The US Forest Service has tried to redirect the wild herds of elk and antelope out of harms way.

      Many of us have questioned here; how much more can AZ take, given, the Fed. Gov't declaring war on our state just one year ago.

      We have already walked thorugh the fire branding by our own Federal Government swored to protect us and you, as a border state and the Feds refuse to give us the, boots on the ground, we need here. Teh violence on our border and also with TX under reported, accept by Fox News.

      We won't cave over the enforcement for the rule of law (s) and with true Americanism the majority of the States in America, also support us. Like you, we will continue to demand accountability.

      The answer has alsways been there.

      It's those amazing Americans, here now, helping to save our state. Our state will continues to stand-up for the numerous corruption you listing pointing- out, how much work we Americans need to correct.

      As you stated , D.C. couldn't locate a tick on the back rump of a mule.

      We amazing American, are the ones with the cattle prod Henry.

      To you, and all others listed above that continue to help restore the spirit of Americanism, restoring the rule of law, and our Constitutionals Rights and also saving our State, AZ THANK YOU to those Amazing Americans!

      , AZ says Thank You!

    9. Marion Andersson says:

      Hi All, Great blog and interesting discussions. Wanted to share the following with you as we have some great Amazing Americans in our Club


      with The Amazing People Club®

      June-July 2011

      Father’s Day/Founding Fathers

      4th July/Independence Day


      "For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor" (excerpt Declaration of Independence).

      “And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave

      O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!” (excerpt Star Spangled Banner)

      Proud and powerful quotes from two of the most widely used documents in America. We have heard of the stories and sacrifices made by many of our brave Founding Fathers. They were not all wild-eyed and rebellious. Some were soft-spoken men, some were educated, some were poor, and some were wealthy. Just who were all these people that contributed to this great nation over time?

      Americans have so much to celebrate about their great nation, especially with the upcoming events such as Father’s Day on Sunday 19th June and Independence Day on Monday 4th July. At the Amazing People Club Headquarters, we have pulled out all the stops to run promotions on some of the most popular eTitles from the Amazing Americans series throughout June and July. Explore the lives of these influential individuals as we take you on a trip back in time for a personal interview with them. Their journeys on this Earth brought many changes and they still have stories to tell. FREE products are available globally, priced products are available to USA residents only.

      Meet Abraham Lincoln eStory $0.99 1-30 June 2011

      Meet Thomas Edison eStory FREE* 1-30 June 2011

      Meet Thomas Edison Audio FREE* 1-30 June 2011

      Meet Albert Einstein Audio $0.99 1-30 June 2011

      Amazing Americans eBook $3.99 1-31 July 2011

      Meet George Washington eStory $0.99 1-31 July 2011

      Meet Lillian Gilbreth eStory FREE* 1-31 July 2011

      *Free when you JOIN THE CLUB at http://www.amazingpeopleclub.com (free to join!)

      Meet Abraham Lincoln eStory – Would you like to have met him and discussed his life and career?

      “As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy.” Arguably one of the most influential of all American Presidents, who played a crucial role in the abolition of slavery. Explore his life in a very personal way.

      Meet Thomas Edison eStory – How did he find the time to be a father of 6 children?

      “Be courageous. I have seen many depressions in business. Always America has emerged from these stronger and more prosperous. Be brave as your fathers before you. Have faith! Go forward!” Outstanding Father of Invention and entrepreneur. Discover the fascinating journey he went on, from the classroom, where he struggled, to a random event when he saved a girl from a passing train – an event which entirely changed the course of his life.

      Meet George Washington eStory – Universally regarded as the “Father of his country”.

      “Some day, following the example of the United States of America, there will be a United States of Europe”.

      Can you imagine what this great leader would have said if he was interviewed about his achievements? Get the word directly from this Amazing man himself.

      Meet Lilian Gilbreth eStory – Founding Mother of America

      "It's not good to be envied. But if you have to be envied, it's better to be envied for what you are than for what you own." Who was this woman? Known as the mother of modern management and as well as being a mother of 12, she pioneered industrial management techniques which are still in use today. Her story comes to life in her virtual interview (BioView®).


      • What was it that motivated Mother Jones to stand up for the miners and their families?

      • How did Margaret Sanger see her contribution to women’s health and civil rights?

      “America the Beautiful”, is an anthem written by Katherine Lee Bates and music by Samuel Ward. It celebrates the mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters who made the USA a great country. But – who were these heroes and heroines that made America beautiful? They included writers, engineers, doctors, nurses, musicians, architects, politicians, artists and business people. Now there is a book about their outstanding achievements called Amazing Americans.

      We have all witnessed the extraordinary economic and social growth in the United States of America. How was it done? Amazing Americans highlights the stories of some of the people who made key contributions.

      These include:- Anne Burras – founding mother of America, Amelia Earhart – great aviator, Thomas Edison – outstanding inventor and entrepreneur, Lillian Gilbreth – innovative business woman who had 12 children, Samuel Morse – artist and developer of telegraphy, Linus Pauling – scientist who won the Nobel Prize twice, William Shockley – the man behind computer chips, Percy Spencer – the guy who developed microwave ovens and other products, and George Washington – the first President of the USA.

      The Americans in our ‘Club’ are some of the people who have helped to make the United States a great country. Each one of them had strong motivations. They are only a few, of the many, who did amazing work.

      We can learn key lessons from each one of them. In particular, their achievements were a result of their determination to continue on, regardless of how difficult the journey. They believed in what they had to offer, and used their time well.

      Their stories are inspirational and their lives have been recreated in a unique story format called a BioView® which combines biography with a virtual interview – reflecting the life story of an amazing person. It offers an interesting and easy way to learn from those who have made major contributions to our world. Discover how these Amazing Americans lived, loved and worked in their own distinct ways.

      To further explore the Amazing Americans Series, see:-

      Become an Amazing Person

      There is something amazing in everyone. Join this prestigious club which has over 500 honorary members waiting to keep you and other members company. Simply visit http://www.amazingpeopleclub.com and JOIN THE CLUB. It’s free to join and as a member you will receive free eResources every month.

      About The Amazing People Club®?

      The Amazing People Club®, the publisher of an innovative new audio and book series based around BioViews®, makes the lives of a huge range of amazing people accessible like never before. The series is distributed by Hachette Book Group.

      Developed by psychologist and entrepreneur Dr Charles Margerison, the unique BioView® format is a newly-developed concept in storytelling that combines a biography with a virtual interview, creating an entirely new way of engaging with the past that is both educational and entertaining. Whatever your profession or interest, within our library there are stories that will speak to everyone in some way. The unique BioView® format makes the stories accessible and engaging, whether you are 16 or 60. You can gain a clear overview of our series at http://www.amazingpeopleclub.com. BioViews® are inspirational stories that can help you to achieve your ambitions on life's journey.

      Covering a huge range of iconic individuals, the series from The Amazing People Club® offers an ideal way to be introduced to these remarkable people. “I have written their life stories, as if they are talking to me personally. Each one can be read, or heard via an audio recording, in about 5 to 10 minutes. The stories are available in an easy-to-read or easy-to-listen-to format. You can enjoy these stories on the train or bus to work, in your lunch break, or even while waiting for the kids to finish sports training,” says Dr Margerison.

      The Amazing People Club titles are available in book, downloadable audio and eBook formats. The remarkable stories can be purchased individually or as collections.

      For a full range of titles available, and to experience BioViews® for yourself, please visit: http://www.amazingpeopleclub.com


      § Amazing Women § Amazing Americans § Amazing People of Sydney

      § Amazing Careers § Amazing Entrepreneurs § Amazing Doctors & Nurses

      § Amazing Love Stories § Amazing People of London § Amazing Scientists

      § Amazing People of New York § Amazing People of Paris

      About the Author

      Dr Charles Margerison is the founder and author of the Amazing People Club series, which he created to reflect the achievements of inspirational people. He is a Chartered Psychologist, a member of the Royal Institution and the Royal Society of Literature. Dr Margerison has extensive experience as an international business development adviser to a number of large organizations around the world. The author of more than ten books on business management, Dr Margerison is the co-founder of Team Management Systems and Emerald Journals. He was Professor of Management at the University of Cranfield and at the University of Queensland, Australia. He is currently the Chairman of Bell Hughes Music Group and the President of Amazing People Club LLC.

      The words in each BioView® are the author’s interpretation of their possible opinions, based on the research of what each individual did.

      Please do not hesitate to contact us if you require further information, samples, author interviews etc. Thank you for your time and we hope to meet you soon at http://www.amazingpeopleclub.com

      Kind regards,

      Marion Andersson

      Business Development Consultant

      E: marion@amazingpeopleclub.com
      T: +61 405 829199

    10. carol,az says:

      RSVP Marion:

      Great post and thank you for the wesite re.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.