A New York Times article yesterday described in detail the sorry state of health in these United States. In a study of 17 other affluent nations the US often scored dead last.

 “Something fundamental is going wrong,” said Dr. Steven Woolf, chairman of the Department of Family Medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University, who led the panel. “This is not the product of a particular administration or political party. Something at the core is causing the U.S. to slip behind these other high-income countries. And it’s getting worse.”

The study linked a greater number of drug overdoses, car accidents and gun violence in the US as reasons why we did so poorly.

The rate of firearm homicides was 20 times higher in the United States than in the other countries, according to the report, which cited a 2011 study of 23 countries. And though suicide rates were lower in the United States, firearm suicide rates were six times higher.

Sixty-nine percent of all American homicide deaths in 2007 involved firearms, compared with an average of 26 percent in other countries, the study said. The US also had the highest infant mortality rate, the highest rates of STD’s among young people and the highest rates of diabetes among adults.

 “We expected to see some bad news and some good news,” Dr. Woolf said. “But the U.S. ranked near and at the bottom in almost every heath indicator. That stunned us.”

The researchers were at a loss to explain why the US is doing so poorly, but it really isn’t a mystery. It’s like the biblical prophets warned: a culture that values property over people and empire over human solidarity, will bleed to death from within even if it is the most powerful empire the world is ever known.