Suppose you were a congressman who tried to get legislation passed - lets say a federal law - that 2 + 2 = 4.
Before you know it, though, the nation would split into its usual factions.
Right wing groups would claim that making two plus two equal four is tantamount to affirmative action - "why, if God wanted twos to be equal to fours, he would have made them fours in the first place.
Left wing groups would put world renowned mathematicians on the job around the clock, generating every known numerical combination that could equal four - "because singling out the number two for special treatment, when we know there are other combinations of numbers, both whole and fractional, that add up to four - that is discrimination."
Think tanks would fill the airwaves and the internet with new releases hourly showing how this would affect the environment, or how the whole thing was an exercise in futility.
Political pundits would parse such nuances as the validity of the number theory - "is two really the description of a finite quantity, or is it the arbitrary designation of an abstract theory that is not based on scientific fact?"
All of these machinations, however, would pale in comparison to the efforts our vaunted media would put into depicting this brouhaha in the news.
"Two Plus Two Equals Disaster For The Left"
"Right Math Produces Wrong Total"
"56% Of Americans Do Not Believe 2 + 2 = 4"
As absurd as this sounds, it isn't much different from a lot of what I read in the paper everyday. We see sound bites, deliberately designed to wrest any semblance of logic from the words the speaker says, republished and regurgitated hourly.
The absolute truth is prevention is less expensive by far than emergency room intervention at the last minute. The absolute truth is that most of our big city trauma hospitals will sound their own siren in the next couple of months, declaring that they are again broke before the end of the year because of all the indigent and uninsured patients they have to serve. The absolute truth is that many procedures are performed in order to prevent lawsuits or generate revenue. The absolute truth is that our health insurance companies have designed their policies, for those who can afford them, to provide the minimum benefits for the maximum cost.
"(w + x)/y = z" is probably closer to what needed to be dealt with, if w,x, and y were the absolute truths I listed above. But you will never see anything with so many unknown variables put before Congress. Which means a third grader could do as good a job as the people you elect to represent you now.
When we can get to the point where we are not afraid to deal with multiple unknowns simultaneously, when we can have the guts, both as a government and as a nation, to let the outcome of an effort like this healthcare initiative fall where it may, instead of insisting on hammering our square peg problem through a round hole of a solution, maybe we can make some real progress.