Book review: Good To Be King

As promised, here is my review of Good To Be King by Michael Badnarik.

Good To Be King is divided into 26 short chapters, an appendix, complete copies of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, and contains a foreword by Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX). Paul writes:

“Mr. Badnarik starts with fundamentals, identifying the difference between rights and privileges. He discusses the critical and needed distinction between republican and democratic systems of government, arguing that freedom can survive in America only if we return to our republican roots. He also illustrates the forgotten tenets of federalism and states’ rights, arguing that federal usurpation of state power has accelerated the loss of our freedoms.’

In Chapter 1, “Ignorance Is Bliss — But It’s Still Ignorance,’ Badnarik lays the framework from which he presents the rest of the book. He says, “I am an iconoclast — a breaker or destroyer of images; one who attacks cherished beliefs and traditional institutions as being based on error or superstition.’ He urges the reader to challenge conventional thinking and to question authority — including his. I will be doing a bit of that here. Much of what you learned in history class is just plain wrong, and Badnarik sets a lot of facts straight.

Michael Badnarik considered Chapter 2, “Rights vs. Privileges,’ to be so important that he made it the sample chapter for his book and placed it online. I agree. Without understanding the difference between rights and privileges, it is impossible to claim that which is yours by right or to understand how your rights have been usurped by the government granting them back to you as revocable privileges. Badnarik speaks to this issue extensively, and you must understand this critical distinction, or any attempt you might made to study the Constitution and the American system of government would be a complete waste of time.

Chapter 3, “Individual Rights,’ expands on your basic human rights that you have by virtue of being born and various legal trickery which has been used to curtail those rights. Chapter 4, “Sovereignty,’ explains the concept of sovereignty and how it relates to the formation of the United States and your individual rights.

Beginning with Chapter 5, “Forms of Government,’ Badnarik analyzes several different forms of government, such as democracy, communism, etc., and relates them to the current-day United States government. This chapter also contains an explanation of what the Founding Fathers really thought about democracy, which may very well surprise you. Chapter 6, “Communist Manifesto,’ goes into a more in-depth analysis of communism and a comparison of the Communist Manifesto to the current United States government which, again, is likely to surprise and shock you. Badnarik argues that communism has been almost completely implemented here in the United States, and backs it up with actual examples from U.S. law.

Chapter 7, “Our Founding Documents and Early History,’ explains what happened in America between 1775 and 1791, covering the creation of the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution, and the often heated debates surrounding them. Badnarik also explains the difference between federalism and nationalism, and if you’ve heard of The Federalist Papers and The Anti-Federalist Papers, they don’t espouse what you might think they do from the titles alone.

Chapters 8-13 go into detail on the Constitution itself, explaining the Preamble and each of the seven Articles comprising the original Constitution, and as it has been amended. Badnarik illustrates areas where the intention of the Founding Fathers has been perverted and where government has simply assumed powers not granted to it. He shows situations in which many people find themselves involved with the government, in which the Constitution simply does not apply, much to their shock, as the judge levies a steep fine.

Chapter 14, “Preamble to the Bill of Rights?’ looks at the little-known Preamble to the Bill of Rights. Badnarik explains why the Bill of Rights has a preamble and what it means: the Bill of Rights was intended to place further restrictions on government, not grant it additional powers. You’ve never seen the Preamble to the Bill of Rights? Here it is: “The conventions of a number of the states, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the government, will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution.’

Chapters 15-19 cover the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments. He explains each in detail, the reason they were written, and their practical applications today. Here’s an example:

Congress is prohibited from abridging our “freedom of speech.’ Beginning with the declaration that we can “alter or abolish’ our government when it becomes destructive of our rights, it follows logically that we can also speak critically of our government, in spite of the current administration’s assertions to the contrary. Any elected official who claims that political dissent marks a person as a suspected terrorist is either illiterate or hopelessly corrupt — either condition being grounds for immediate dismissal. It is often said that we should never talk about religion or politics in public places. Why not? It is unfortunate that expressing our opinions has been deemed socially unacceptable. If Americans were more willing to discuss religion and politics with their friends and acquaintanaces, I doubt that we would have the political problems that currently exist in Washington.

Chapter 20, “The Thirteenth Amendment,’ covers both the Thirteenth Amendment most of us know, which ended slavery, but the other thirteenth amendment, which has been all but lost.

Chapter 21, “The Sixteenth Amendment,’ explains the income tax, its basis in constitutional law, and how it is applied today by the IRS. Here I must warn you: while many of the assertions in this chapter seem to be well-founded, the IRS claims all of them have no basis whatsoever in law, are misinterpretations of the Internal Revenue Code, or worse. Take this with a grain of salt before you stop filing those 1040 forms.

Chapter 22, “Amendments Eighteen and Twenty-One,’ reviews Prohibition and compares it to the current War on Drugs. Badnarik makes a unique and compelling argument regarding the legalization of drugs, stating that if they are made legal, the prices will drop, organized crime will lose interest, and they will disappear from the streets. You’ll have to read the argument yourself to see if it makes sense to you.

Chapter 23, “Other Amendments,’ briefly covers other amendments in the Constitution.

Chapter 24, “Lawful Money vs. Legal Tender,’ gives a good introduction to the nature of money and how the Federal Reserve has perverted it to devalue the U.S. dollar and make a few people rich. Badnarik argues that Congress did not have the authority to create the Federal Reserve and that it should be abolished and the U.S. return to a currency backed by gold, silver or other precious metals. Currently, the U.S. dollar is backed by nothing at all, which is why we pay $1 now for something that cost two cents in 1913, and two cents in 1800.

In Chapter 25, “Corruption in the United States,’ Badnarik states that “Corruption in our government started even before the ink was dry on the Constitution.’ He gives numerous examples of corruption in the United States government, many of which I had no idea about before reading the book.

Finally, Chapter 26, “Is There Anything I Can Do About It?’ explains actions you can take today, even without running afoul of any government agencies, to make the U.S. a more free place. The book closes with this quotation, which seems especially relevant today.

“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.’ — Thomas Paine

The book, even in hardcover, is small and lightweight, coming in at only 199 pages. I received one of the last copies of the first printing, which appeared to be somewhat rushed. Eight pages are unevenly bound and stick out a bit, and the book contains numerous typographical errors. Even so, it’s packed with things you never knew about the Constitution, a few of which I’ve shared with you here. I strongly recommend this book for anyone who wants to know the principles on which this country was really founded, even as I warn to take some things in the book with a grain of salt.