Letters of Liberty
                                                                                   Vertical Divide  

                This in one of the most misunderstood elements of our republic and key to its continuing operation of our union.  The vertical divide begins with individuals, followed by families, communities, towns, cities, counties, and finally the states’ responsibilities. 

The individuals who make command decisions every day ranging from what to eat or drink; when to purchase a car or truck; how much to save or spend, etc., personal responsibilities.  This is liberty; the freedom or right of doing, thinking, speaking and making our own decisions, according to choice without interference or restriction.  There are times in my life I have made poor decisions, but I have learned from my mistakes as I know others have.  This learning process, although sometimes painful, strengthens and teaches us to make more rational decisions in the future.  It is different for each individual, the learning process depends on both circumstances and support from those around us.  The foundation of the vertical divide is the individual.

The next layer of the divide is the family.  Once again families decide on many important decisions.  Examples range from saving for both retirement and college education, where to live, what jobs to seek, what size home you should live in, should you either purchase or rent a place to live.  Since a family is a group of individuals, it is more efficient to make rational decisions for the family as a whole.  The family unit, like the individual, changes over time.  There may be more or less members in a family and the structure may change with children getting married and leaving the home.  Families also succeed or stumble on their decisions, yet over time they tend to make more successful choices going forward provided they are not restrained.

Next there are the communities or townships which have the abilities to provide services that individuals and families cannot, such as clear roads for our safety, provide local schools, police and firefighters, and a host of other critical public services.  The townships can levy a tax to provide for these services.  People vote for individuals to represent them in their community. This is a vital component to the success of these services.  Elected officials know the needs and concerns of their constituent because they live in the same community.  This is the first layer of government which affects the community on a daily basis. 

The county can also provide services the local communities cannot.  Some examples are providing a court system, controlling water quality and supply, and necessary road maintenance.  The elected county officials also have the authority to tax to provide for these numerous services. 

The uppermost tier is the state in the vertical divide.  Having the responsibility of the people’s welfare is wisely placed in the state’s authority rather than of the federal government’s.  Being a sovereign entity, it has its own Constitution and set of laws.  As James Madison once said “the powers granted the federal governments are few and defined yet the powers to the states are numerous and undefined”.  Instead of attempting to list all the powers this state has, let us focus on one that affects almost all citizens.  Obtaining a drivers license is a privilege.  In Pennsylvania you are required to take a driver’s examination, purchase vehicle insurance, register and inspect your automobile yearly.  If you fail to comply with the state regulations and laws you may endure a fine or have your driver’s license suspended or revoked.  I shall not list every power this state posses because you know and understand most of them as this is your state.

Two fundamental questions now stand in our path of understanding.  If states can make virtually every law, why do we need a federal government?  The second is what if the laws implemented by the state become too oppressive for individuals?

For the former question the answer is if our state was attack by a military force and we did not have the resources to defend ourselves, the national government could repel such an attack due to its ability to raise money and manpower from other states in your Constitution.

The latter question of our state becoming to oppressive with their laws, we can either vote current elected officials out of office and have the necessary laws repealed or you have the choice to move to another state.