Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Book Review: The Founder's Key

"The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for among old parchments... They are written, as with a sun beam, in the whole volume of human nature by the hand of Divinity itself." This quote from Alexander Hamilton is a fitting metaphor for Larry Arnn's book, The Founders' Key: The Divine and Natural Connection Between the Declaration and the Constitution and What We Risk by Losing It. The rights defined by the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America exist on a plane above lawmaking and nation building. The rights of liberty, independence, and self-determination are natural laws, acknowledged in the fiber and structure of America's founding documents.

The President of Hillsdale College, Larry Arnn, has issued this short book (123 pages plus 93 pages of foundational readings) to explain the connection between the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution.

Recently, a number of authors have argued that the Declaration and Constitution are opposed to each other. One argument used to promote this idea is the issue of slavery. The Declaration states that all are created equal, whereas the Constitution protects the institution of slavery. Dr. Arnn provides a detailed explanation of this seeming contradiction, noting that, among other indications, the following actions showed that the Founders were (at most) reluctant supporters of slavery:

1. George Washington did not abuse his slaves, and he took steps to ensure that they would be freed upon his death.
2. The Founders limited and eventually outlawed the importation of slaves from abroad.
3. They abolished slavery in a majority of the original states.
4. And, they forbade the expansion of slavery into areas where it had not been originally permitted.

The most critical part of this book is the author's discussion of what amounts to a fourth branch of the federal government: the Administrative State. The various Departments in Washington, DC, amount to an unelected, unaccountable government that has absolute power which, according to Lord Acton, "tends to corrupt absolutely." Dr. Arnn does not hold out any hope for a rapid dissolution of this growing bureaucratic arm of the State, but he does provide guidelines for bringing it under the control of the governed.

James Madison, writing in Federalist Paper Number 62, stated that "It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be to-morrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed?"

The income tax code, health care reform, financial reform, etc. are so complex that literally no ordinary citizen can comprehend them. We can thank the Fourth Branch of government for these labyrinthine gems. The Regulatory System cannot be rolled back overnight, but when we are sliding toward a cliff we should at least turn off the engine and/or apply the brakes. Arnn shows the way to begin this process; not to do so is to take a risk that we cannot afford to take.

Arnn regards the delicate topics with the confidence and authority befitting the power of divinity innate in America's founding. He shares concepts that are enlightening and ennobling. His insights are fresh and immediate. Every page emanates with hope that we can reclaim the liberties intended in our nation's law. The language is direct, to the point. It doesn't read like a rebuttal on attacks to liberty, but rather as a guide to the underlying issues upon which divine rights are constituted.

Part II includes the Declaration and the Constitution, and several of the Federalist Papers. The slender volume packs a lot of information in a spirit of openness that is easy to read and understand.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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