What the Obamacare ruling may portend for energy and climate policy.

An insightful comment from our friend, Skip Laitner:

What the Obamacare ruling may portend for energy and climate policy – and for our next steps ahead

This fits with a thesis we are following here at the lab: social change is limited by social paradigms that create meta-law (laws that create other laws, like the US Constitution).  Meta-laws guide and provide the boundary conditions for new detail-level laws.  These laws, however, if they are not consistent with the organizing paradigm, will come in conflict with the meta-law.

The US paradigm is based on liberal individualism, where private property is paramount; the Constitution limits federal regulation to inter-state commerce — thus economic conditions that speak to our paradigm.  Currently everything from the Civil Rights Act to the Clean Water Act have authority through inter-state commerce, but are essentially not about commerce.  Inasmuch as they are not about commerce, they are not consistent with the larger demands of the paradigm and the meta-law, and will be open to weakening and perhaps elimination because we have limited constitutional authority to the federal government on what the actual purview of the federal government can be– can it be in support of civil rights? clean water? Only to the extent that these issues affect commerce between the states, and thus we are doing work here that will be presented at academic fora that propose this model of:

Paradigm–>Metalaw–> Governance

As the basic limits to social change– if we want to govern beyond commerce, we need a new paradigm that will build reformed or new metalaw; conversely, if we want to keep things as they are in the US at least, we will have weak opportunities for the federal government to make good on a larger social contract.

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