Younger Americans have the lowest probability of surviving to the age of 50 of any advanced nation, according to a new report issued yesterday by the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine. The primary reasons: higher rates of gun violence, car crashes, and drug overdoses, and far lower access to health care. The rate of firearm homicides is 20 times higher in the U.S. than in every other advanced nation, and firearm suicide rates are 6 times higher. We also lose more years of life before age 50 to alcohol and drug abuse than in any other developed nation.

And yet what are we doing about all this? The NRA and its backers in Congress refuse to budge on gun control, insisting that “guns don’t kill people.” Meanwhile, we’ve cut programs for alcohol and drug abuse, and for the mentally ill. Republicans insist on further cuts in Medicaid and other services for lower-income families. And we’ve slashed state and local funding for our schools. We are the richest nation in the world — the richest in the history of the world — and yet we are turning our backs on our young, telling them we can’t do any better. That’s simply immoral.

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