Quantum field theory explains SCOTUS Decision on Health Reform

A Feynman diagram explanation of the Supreme Court

Last week the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. Ex ante, legal scholars across the political spectrum considered this a straightforward case. ACA (including its individual mandate) is obviously constitutional based on seventy years of established precedent. After Supreme Court oral argument, however, it was apparent that things would be much closer.

As it turned out, the Court upheld ACA, but also imposed novel constraints on the federal government’s powers through the commerce clause. More mysteriously, Roberts apparently wrote both the majority opinion and much of the dissent Roberts also took a few potshots at academic economists:

“To an economist, perhaps, there is no difference between activity and inactivity; both have measurable economic effects on commerce. But the distinction between doing something and doing nothing would not have been lost on the Framers, who were ‘practical statesmen,’ not meta­physical philosophers…..”

Ironically, Roberts himself resembled no one so much as meta-physical philosopher Soren Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard would write under a pseudonym to savagely review his own works.

You may be confused by all this. Fortunately, this week’s apparent discovery of the Higgs Boson brings clarity to the situation. Once again, the formalism of quantum field theory brings clarity to hitherto unexplainable developments in public policy.


The Feynman diagram conceals some of intricate calculations.  But the intuition is clear.

The key step is the Roberts-Roberts particle interaction. A Roberts- particle interacts through the logical contradiction annihilation operator to become a Roberts+. Then, one billionth of a billionth of a billionth of a second later, this interaction then produces spontaneous pair creation of a Breyer+ and a Scalia-, shown above. To simplify the mathematics, it’s sometimes useful to consider the Scalia particle to be a Breyer moving backwards in time.

Conservation principles lead many scientists to theorize the emission of a taxino particle, which is essentially massless by the hardship exemption theorem. Experts differ regarding whether this particle has been experimentally observed.

Author: Harold Pollack

Harold Pollack is Helen Ross Professor of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. He has served on three expert committees of the National Academies of Science. His recent research appears in such journals as Addiction, Journal of the American Medical Association, and American Journal of Public Health. He writes regularly on HIV prevention, crime and drug policy, health reform, and disability policy for American Prospect, tnr.com, and other news outlets. His essay, "Lessons from an Emergency Room Nightmare" was selected for the collection The Best American Medical Writing, 2009. He recently participated, with zero critical acclaim, in the University of Chicago's annual Latke-Hamentaschen debate.

11 thoughts on “Quantum field theory explains SCOTUS Decision on Health Reform”

  1. This is too brilliant! And hysterically funny and accurate. The “logical contradiction annihilation operator”! Bravo.

  2. For three decades Republican administrations have been filling caves beneath Wasington DC with massive quantities of debt in hopes of observing the ellusive taxino. So far no luck but Gorver Norqvist claims the universe is teaming with these little devils and it is only a matter of time until one collides with and annihilates a T-bill.

  3. You are behind the curve on taxinos. The Kochs paid for a huge array of detectors sunk into the Antarctic icecap, to remove interference from inconvenient “facts”. When a taxino, travelling at the speed of rumour, strikes one of 5,000 wingnut detectors, it gives off a flash of red light and a shriek of incoherent rage. Recently published papers in the Journal of Irreproducible Results report a massive taxino shower beginning on June 27. A spokesman for the Romney campaign said “This confirms what Mitt Romney has been saying all along”.

    1. Sadly, no. Wingnuts are leptoheteroscedastic particles, and so their number is not conserved.

      Like most facts, this one cuts both ways: wingnuts can be created, and wingnuts can be destroyed. Although it was thought that education worked to destroy wingnuts, this belief has been called into question with the existence of wingnut factories in Northern Virginia on the Liberty and Regent campuses.

      1. The main campuses of Regent and Liberty are in Virginia–but not northern Virginia.

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