America’s Baby Bust


America’s Baby Bust

(This article from the Wall Street Journal is one of the most interesting and important articles I have seen recently.  I am convinced we’re looking for answers in all the wrong places.)

The nation’s falling fertility rate is the root cause of many of our problems. And it’s only getting worse

Updated Feb. 12, 2013 4:31 p.m. ET

Americans are not reproducing enough, and the long-term consequences are dire, says Jonathan V. Last, author of “What To Expect When No One’s Expecting,” in a discussion with WSJ Weekend Review editor Gary Rosen.

For more than three decades, Chinese women have been subjected to their country’s brutal one-child policy. Those who try to have more children have been subjected to fines and forced abortions. Their houses have been razed and their husbands fired from their jobs. As a result, Chinese women have a fertility rate of 1.54. Here in America, white, college-educated women—a good proxy for the middle class—have a fertility rate of 1.6. America has its very own one-child policy. And we have chosen it for ourselves.

Forget the debt ceiling. Forget the fiscal cliff, the sequestration cliff and the entitlement cliff. Those are all just symptoms. What America really faces is a demographic cliff: The root cause of most of our problems is our declining fertility rate.

The fertility rate is the number of children an average woman bears over the course of her life. The replacement rate is 2.1. If the average woman has more children than that, population grows. Fewer, and it contracts. Today, America’s total fertility rate is 1.93, according to the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; it hasn’t been above the replacement rate in a sustained way since the early 1970s.

The nation’s falling fertility rate underlies many of our most difficult problems. Once a country’s fertility rate falls consistently below replacement, its age profile begins to shift. You get more old people than young people. And eventually, as the bloated cohort of old people dies off, population begins to contract. This dual problem—a population that is disproportionately old and shrinking overall—has enormous economic, political and cultural consequences.

97% of the world’s population now lives in countries where the fertility rate is falling. Getty Images

For two generations we’ve been lectured about the dangers of overpopulation. But the conventional wisdom on this issue is wrong, twice. First, global population growth is slowing to a halt and will begin to shrink within 60 years. Second, as the work of economists Esther Boserups and Julian Simon demonstrated, growing populations lead to increased innovation and conservation. Think about it: Since 1970, commodity prices have continued to fall and America’s environment has become much cleaner and more sustainable—even though our population has increased by more than 50%. Human ingenuity, it turns out, is the most precious resource.

Low-fertility societies don’t innovate because their incentives for consumption tilt overwhelmingly toward health care. They don’t invest aggressively because, with the average age skewing higher, capital shifts to preserving and extending life and then begins drawing down. They cannot sustain social-security programs because they don’t have enough workers to pay for the retirees. They cannot project power because they lack the money to pay for defense and the military-age manpower to serve in their armed forces.

There has been a great deal of political talk in recent years about whether America, once regarded as the shining city on a hill, is in decline. But decline isn’t about whether Democrats or Republicans hold power; it isn’t about political ideology at all. At its most basic, it’s about the sustainability of human capital. Whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney took the oath of office last month, we would still be declining in the most important sense—demographically. It is what drives everything else.

If our fertility rate were higher—say 2.5, or even 2.2—many of our problems would be a lot more manageable. But our fertility rate isn’t going up any time soon. In fact, it’s probably heading lower. Much lower.

America’s fertility rate began falling almost as soon as the nation was founded. In 1800, the average white American woman had seven children. (The first reliable data on black fertility begin in the 1850s.) Since then, our fertility rate has floated consistently downward, with only one major moment of increase—the baby boom. In 1940, America’s fertility rate was already skirting the replacement level, but after the war it jumped and remained elevated for a generation. Then, beginning in 1970, it began to sink like a stone.

There’s a constellation of reasons for this decline: Middle-class wages began a long period of stagnation. College became a universal experience for most Americans, which not only pushed people into marrying later but made having children more expensive. Women began attending college in equal (and then greater) numbers than men. More important, women began branching out into careers beyond teaching and nursing. And the combination of the birth-control pill and the rise of cohabitation broke the iron triangle linking sex, marriage and childbearing.

This is only a partial list, and many of these developments are clearly positive. But even a social development that represents a net good can carry a serious cost.

By 1973, the U.S. was below the replacement rate, as was nearly every other Western country. Since then, the phenomenon of fertility collapse has spread around the globe: 97% of the world’s population now lives in countries where the fertility rate is falling.

If you want to see what happens to a country once it hurls itself off the demographic cliff, look at Japan, with a fertility rate of 1.3. In the 1980s, everyone assumed the Japanese were on a path to owning the world. But the country’s robust economic facade concealed a crumbling demographic structure.

The Japanese fertility rate began dipping beneath the replacement rate in 1960 for a number of complicated reasons (including a postwar push by the West to lower Japan’s fertility rate, the soaring cost of having children and an overall decline in the marriage rate). By the 1980s, it was already clear that the country would eventually undergo a population contraction. In 1984, demographer Naohiro Ogawa warned that, “Owing to a decrease in the growth rate of the labor force…Japan’s economy is likely to slow down.” He predicted annual growth rates of 1% or even 0% in the first quarter of the 2000s.

Today, America’s total fertility rate is 1.93, below the replacement rate of 2.1. Getty Images

From 1950 to 1973, Japan’s total-factor productivity—a good measure of economic dynamism—increased by an average of 5.4% per year. From 1990 to 2006, it increased by just 0.63% per year. Since 1991, Japan’s rate of GDP growth has exceeded 2.5% in only four years; its annual rate of growth has averaged 1.03%.

Because of its dismal fertility rate, Japan’s population peaked in 2008; it has already shrunk by a million since then. Last year, for the first time, the Japanese bought more adult diapers than diapers for babies, and more than half the country was categorized as “depopulated marginal land.” At the current fertility rate, by 2100 Japan’s population will be less than half what it is now.

Can we keep the U.S. from becoming Japan? We have some advantages that the Japanese lack, beginning with a welcoming attitude toward immigration and robust religious faith, both of which buoy fertility. But in the long run, the answer is, probably not.

Conservatives like to think that if we could just provide the right tax incentives for childbearing, then Americans might go back to having children the way they did 40 years ago. Liberals like to think that if we would just be more like France—offer state-run day care and other programs so women wouldn’t have to choose between working and motherhood—it would solve the problem. But the evidence suggests that neither path offers more than marginal gains. France, for example, hasn’t been able to stay at the replacement rate, even with all its day-care spending.

Which leaves us with outsourcing our fertility. We’ve received a massive influx of immigrants from south of the border since the late 1970s. Immigration has kept America from careening over the demographic cliff. Today, there are roughly 38 million people in the U.S. who were born elsewhere. (Two-thirds of them are here legally.) To put that in perspective, consider that just four million babies are born annually in the U.S.

If you strip these immigrants—and their relatively high fertility rates—from our population profile, America suddenly looks an awful lot like continental Europe, which has a fertility rate of 1.5., if not quite as demographically terminal as Japan.

Relying on immigration to prop up our fertility rate also presents several problems, the most important of which is that it’s unlikely to last. Historically, countries with fertility rates below replacement level start to face their own labor shortages, and they send fewer people abroad. In Latin America, the rates of fertility decline are even more extreme than in the U.S. Many countries in South America are already below replacement level, and they send very few immigrants our way. And every other country in Central and South America is on a steep dive toward the replacement line.

That is what’s happened in Mexico. In 1970, the Mexican fertility rate was 6.72. Today, it’s just at replacement, a drop of 72% in 40 years. Mexico used to send us several hundred thousand immigrants a year. For the last three years, there has been a net immigration of zero. Some of this decrease is probably related to the recent recession, but much of it is likely the result of a structural shift.

As for the Hispanic immigrants who are already here, we can’t count on their demographic help forever. They’ve been doing the heavy lifting for a long time: While the nation as a whole has a fertility rate of 1.93, the Hispanic-American fertility rate is 2.35. But recent data from the Pew Center suggest that the fertility rate for Hispanic immigrants is falling at an incredible rate. To take just one example, in the three years between 2007 and 2010, the birthrate for Mexican-born Americans dropped by an astonishing 23%.

In the face of this decline, the only thing that will preserve America’s place in the world is if all Americans—Democrats, Republicans, Hispanics, blacks, whites, Jews, Christians and atheists—decide to have more babies.

The problem is that, while making babies is fun, raising them isn’t. A raft of research shows that if you take two people who are identical in every way except for childbearing status, the parent will be on average about six percentage points less likely to be “very happy” than the nonparent. (That’s just for one child. Knock off two more points for each additional bundle of joy.)

But then, parenting has probably never been a barrel of laughs. There have been lots of changes in American life over the last 40 years that have nudged our fertility rate downward. High on the list is the idea that “happiness” is the lodestar of a life well-lived. If we’re going to reverse this decline, we’ll need to reintroduce into American culture the notion that human flourishing ranges wider and deeper than calculations of mere happiness.

We’ll need smart pronatalist policies, too. The government cannot persuade Americans to have children they do not want, but it can help them to have the children they do want. Here are three starting points:

Immigration has helped make up for America’s dropping birth rate. Corbis; Photo Illustration by Keith A. Webb/The Wall Street Journal

Social Security. In the U.S., the Social Security system has taken on most of the burden for caring for elderly adults, a duty that traditionally fell to grown-up children. A perverse effect of putting government in the business of eldercare has been to reduce the incentives to have children in the first place. One RAND study suggested that Social Security depresses the American fertility rate by as much as 0.5.

Looking to dismantle this roadblock, some analysts have suggested flattening the tax code to just two brackets and significantly raising the child tax credit. Others suggest exempting parents from payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare while they are raising children—perhaps by a third for their first child, two-thirds for the second, and then completely for a third child. (Once the children turn 18, the parents would go back to paying their full share.)

Regardless of the particulars, the underlying theory is the same: To reduce the tax burden for people who take on the costs of creating new taxpayers (otherwise known as children).

College. Higher education dampens fertility in all sorts of ways. It delays marriage, incurs debt, increases the opportunity costs of childbearing and significantly increases the expense of raising a child. If you doubt that the economics of the university system are broken, consider this: Since 1960, the real cost of goods in nearly every other sector of American life has dropped. Meanwhile, the real cost of college has increased by more than 1,000%.

If college were another industry, everyone would be campaigning for reform. Instead, politicians are trying to push every kid in America into the current exorbitantly expensive system. How could we get college costs under control? For one, we could begin to eliminate college’s role as a credentialing machine by allowing employers to give their own tests to prospective workers. Alternately, we could encourage the university system to be more responsive to market forces by creating a no-frills, federal degree-granting body that awards certificates to students who pass exams in a given subject.

The Dirt Gap. A big factor in family formation is the cost of land: It determines not just housing expenses but also the costs of transportation, entertainment, baby sitting, school and pretty much everything else. And while intensely urban areas—Los Angeles, New York, Washington, Chicago—have the highest concentrations of jobs, they come with high land costs. Improving the highway system and boosting opportunities for telecommuting would go a long way in helping families to live in lower-cost areas.

These ideas are just a start; other measures certainly will be needed to avert a demographic disaster in the U.S. If we want to continue leading the world, we simply must figure out a way to have more babies.

—Mr. Last is a senior writer at the Weekly Standard and author of “What to Expect When No One’s Expecting: American’s Coming Demographic Disaster” (Encounter), from which this essay is adapted.

Corrections & Amplifications
The U.S. replacement total fertility rate was higher than 2.1 children per woman in the 1800s and early 1900s due to childhood mortality. A chart that ran with an earlier version of this article incorrectly showed the replacement rate as constant since 1800.

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Honey as a Wound Treatment

Karen Hopkins:

My cousin and her husband were in a serious motorcycle accident in Spain and both were in danger of losing a leg. When their leg wounds did not heal as a last resort their doctor treated the wounds with table sugar. They are up and walking today.

Originally posted on Sanne Kure-Jensen:

Beekeeper checking a hive

Beekeeper checking a hive

The ancients managed bees and used honey as a salve or poultice on wounds and boils to prevent infection and speed healing. Doctors and healers around the world use honey or even table sugar in open wounds to lower the risks of infection and speeds healing.

Dr. Allen Dennison of Hasbro Children’s Hospital has worked with honey in medicine for many years. At a RI Beekeepers Association (RIBA) meeting, he offered a peak at modern medicine’s approach to these techniques and shared his experiences in “Healing Wounds with Honey.”  Nearly 80 RIBA members made treatment ointments to bring home after the lecture.

Honey has numerous properties, biological and chemical, that make it uniquely suited for healing. Applying honey straight to wounds soothes raw nerves and helps cuts, gashes, burns and some skin infections to heal faster, according to Dr. Dennison. Applying honey to wounds encourages patient…

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Another short story:

Mary Rose Bell was a curious child, interested in everything. With her long blonde hair and sparkling blue eyes even at ten-years-old she was the center of attention. The fifth child in a large and growing family Mary Rose had no idea she was exceptional in any way.

When her father developed an interest in genealogy Mary Rose stood at his shoulder, watching the screen as he searched for clues to find their family. Where had they originated? How and when did they come to America? There were very few leads. John Bell’s father died when John was a young man; his grandfather died before he was born. His search began at a very basic level. Not being a trained genealogist he spent hours googling the Bell Family name. Of course he got all kinds of hits from Wedding bells to Bell helicopters. Slowly he learned to limit his searches, adding John Bell, then searching for Angus Bell. Next he added his grandfather’s birthdate—1892, and finally he added ‘genealogy”. Incredibly this combination took him to an Angus Bell, born in 1858 who turned out to be his grandfather’s father. He had a great grandfather born in Ohio and from there he was able to trace the Bell family back to Virginia where they arrived in the 1692 from Ireland.

John Bell was ecstatic; he had a new sense of himself. Men and women—his family–had braved the Atlantic to escape religious restrictions in Ireland. Their courage resonated inside him. His mind clung to that brave family who stepped into the unknown bringing his line to America.

His wife listened to his enthusiastic reconstructions of his long dead ancestors, she saw the light that came into is eyes and she suggested, “John, why don’t we take a trip to Ireland. Let’s go see the homeland.”

John laughed. He and Rosalin were schoolteachers. They couldn’t afford a trip to Ireland. But Roslin searched for package prices, cut-rate tours and found a trip she thought they could almost afford. It would run onto the credit cards, but they were paying the infernal cards every month anyway. The money might as well be spent for something memorable.

And now here they were standing in St. Patrick’s cathedral in Dublin. Of course they chose the summer when the interior dome was being restored. Scaffolding filled the front of the church. Men moved back and forth, carrying supplies to men who lay on their backs cleaning and refinishing the beautiful figures of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John supporting the high dome on the north, south, east and west.

All the children were out in the churchyard playing among the tombstones and enjoying the sunlight. Only Mary Rose stood beside her parents craning her neck upward, awestruck. The construction foreman noticed the girl, her hair glowing like a halo and walked over on impulse to speak to the family.

“Excuse me, would you like to climb up and take a closer look?”

John looked at the man in front of him. It was impossible. Who would allow tourists to climb up the scaffolding four or five stories to watch workmen during an active restoration. But he found his voice and asked if the foreman was serious.

“Only if you stay with me,” the man replied.

John, Roslin and Mary Rose found themselves climbing up and up until they reached the plywood base under the dome. There they watched a man gild the robes of the apostles, using a soft brush and impossibly thin sheets of gold. “How does the gold stay where you brush it?” Mary Rose asked softly.

I paint the area with a vegetable glue. Then I pick up the gold with my brush– see, it’s static electricity that holds it to the brush and it’s the static that pulls it toward the prepared surface. “ He lifted his brush and the gold leaf seemed to move into place by itself.

“It’s like magic, better even,” Mary Rose whispered. The master craftsman smiled, picked up another sheet of gold, leaned down moving the brush within millimeters of the pretty child’s cheek. A swish of gold adhered to her skin, glowing even in the half-light.

The master surveyed his work. “La figlia d’oro,” he commented. Then he laughed, “La figlia adorata.” Mary Rose blushed but her mother smiled.

“You’re from Italy?”

Yes. I learned restoration in Rome. They chatted for a few minutes before the Master turned back to his work and the foreman suggested they climb back down.

Back on the stone floor Mary Rose asked what the man had said to her. The foreman leaned down. “He called you ‘the daughter of gold’, but then he changed it to the ‘Golden Child’ or the ‘Adored Child’. You won’t be able to wash your face ever again.”

Mary Rose nodded, filled with wonder.

Outside her parents gathered her siblings but Mary Rose leaned back against a carved doorpost in the shade of the entryway. Something moved behind her and she turned. A carved face looked at her with blank eyes. Its hair and beard were made of leaves, its face had the texture of bark. She reached out and touched an eye.

“Don’t do that,” a voice spoke clearly. She pulled her hand back.

“Mary Rose, child of the garden, tell your father that in the town of Sion Mills, east of Belfast he may find the Bells in the cemetery of the old Presbyterian Church.”

Mary Rose found nothing strange about talking to the stone forest man. She leaned forward and kissed him on his rough cheek before running to find her father.

The family traveled to Sion Mills where John found many generations of his family. Mary Rose spent many happy hours reading tombstones until she came to the grave of Mary Rose Bell, born 1237, died 1299. She sat down next to her namesake and fell asleep sinking slowly into the soft, loamy grass.

It was many hours before her family found her. When she awoke she was in a daze. Looking from one family member to another, happy to be back, sorry to have left her earlier home, her final resting place, so soon.

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TV and the death of cultures

Selwyn Duke has some interesting things to say about changes in rural America and the effects of bringing the “outside world”, real fictional, or fantastic, into our homes through the TV.  The truth?  Media is powerful.

Reposted from

Why the NRA is Right about Hollywood

By Selwyn Duke

Upstate New York’s Catskill Mountain Range is a bucolic place near and dear to my heart. It’s where storybook character Rip Van Winkle enjoyed his legendary slumber, and its scenery hasn’t changed much since he was born of Washington Irving’s fertile imagination. Yet, like Van Winkle, if I’d fallen asleep for 20 years when first arriving in that verdant heaven, I, too, would have noticed some profound changes upon awakening.

About two decades ago, many rural Catskill teens – sons of farmers and hunters and fishermen – suddenly started donning baggy pants and reflecting “gangsta’” counter-culture despite living nowhere near any large urban center. The following generation of teens experienced today’s recent cultural evolution and often sport multiple tattoos and body piercings despite living nowhere near NYC’s grungy East Village. Yet I’m wrong in a sense: those places were actually very close – a television set away.

My old hinterland haunt was once a place where, if you wiggled the rabbit-ear antenna just right, you could pull in one or two TV stations. And what could you see? Perhaps reruns of The Brady Bunch, perhaps the news. But about a quarter century ago came VCRs and video stores; then cable and satellite TV; and, finally, the Internet. The serpent had entered Eden.

In the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, much fire has been directed at gun advocates in general and the National Rifle Association in particular. In response, the organization has implicated Hollywood and popular culture in general for mainstreaming mindless violence. Yet even many Second Amendment advocates part company with the NRA on this point. After all, blaming entertainment for crime smacks of blaming guns. Yet there’s quite a profound difference: guns don’t transmit values. But how we use guns – and knives, fists and words – on screen certainly does.

This message is often a tough sell, however, as it’s very natural to defend one’s entertainment. We grow up with certain shows, movies, characters and music and often become emotionally attached to them; in fact, we may identify with them so closely that an attack upon them can be taken personally. It’s the same phenomenon that causes an avid sports fan to defend his favorite team as if it’s his favored son. And it is then we may hear that old refrain, “It isn’t the entertainment; it’s the values learned at home” (they’re actually one and the same since entertainment enters the home with, in the least, the parents’ tacit approval).

Yet it appears few really believe that refrain. Sure, depending on our ideology, we may disagree on what entertainment is destructive, but that it can be destructive is something on which consensus exists. Just consider, for instance, that when James Cameron’s film Avatarwas released, there was much talk in the conservative blogosphere about its containing environmentalist, anti-corporate and anti-American propaganda. At the other end of the spectrum, liberals wanted the old show Amos ‘n Andy taken off the air because it contained what they considered harmful stereotypes. Or think of how critics worried that Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ would stoke anti-Jewish sentiment or that Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ would inspire anti-Christian feelings, and how the Catholic League complained that The Da Vinci Code was anti-Catholic. Now, I’m not commenting on these claims’ validity. My only point is that when our own sacred cows are being slaughtered, few of us will say, “Well, yeah, the work attacks my cause, but I don’t care because it’s the values taught at home that really matter.”

The truth? Entertainment is powerful. This is why Adolf Hitler had his propaganda filmmaker, Leni Riefenstahl, and why all modern regimes have at times created their own propaganda films. It’s why the ancient Greeks saw fit to censor the arts and American localities traditionally had obscenity laws. And it is why, while “The pen is mightier than the sword” and a picture mightier still, being worth a “thousand words,” we have to wonder how many words moving footage coupled with sound would be. How mighty art thou, Tinseltown? Well, we worry that a child witnessing one parent continually abuse the other will learn to be violent, as children learn by example. Yet often forgotten is that while a person can model behavior seven feet away from the television, he can also model it seven feet away through the television.

And what effect do our entertainment role models have? Much relevant research exists, and the picture it paints isn’t pretty. For instance, a definitive 1990s study published by The Journal of the American Medical Association found that in every society in which TV was introduced, there was an explosion in violent crime and murder within 15 years. As an example, TV had been banned in South Africa for internal security reasons until 1975, at which point the nation had a lower murder rate than other lands with similar demographics. The country’s legalization of TV prompted psychiatrist Dr. Brandon Centerwall to predict “that white South African homicide rates would double within 10 to 15 years after the introduction of television….” But he was wrong.

By 1987 they had more than doubled.

Then the Guardian told us in 2003 that, “…Bhutan, the fabled Himalayan Shangri-la, became the last nation on earth to introduce television. Suddenly a culture, barely changed in centuries, was bombarded by 46 cable channels. And all too soon came Bhutan’s first crime wave – murder, fraud, drug offences.” The serpent had struck again.

And exactly how it strikes is interesting…and scary. Lt. Col. David Grossman, a former West Point military psychologist and one of the world’s foremost experts on what he calls “killology,” explains the process well. In his essay “Trained to Kill,” he speaks of how the military learned that during WWII only 15 to 20 percent of riflemen would actually shoot at an exposed enemy soldier. Yet this rate was increased to 55 percent during the Korean War and then 90 percent in Vietnam. How? By applying psychological principles, saysGrossman, identical to the forces our children are exposed to through entertainment. They are (all quotations are Grossman’s):

  • Brutalization and desensitization: this occurs in boot camp where the training is designed “to break down your existing mores and norms and to accept a new set of values that embrace destruction, violence, and death as a way of life.” Entertainment can perhaps be even more effective when doing this to children because the process often starts when they’re too young to distinguish between fantasy and reality. Grossman explains:
    • To have a child of three, four, or five watch a “splatter” movie, learning to relate to a character for the first 90 minutes and then in the last 30 minutes watch helplessly as that new friend is hunted and brutally murdered is the moral and psychological equivalent of introducing your child to a friend, letting [him] play with that friend, and then butchering that friend in front of your child’s eyes.
  • Classical conditioning: the Japanese employed this during WWII. Soldiers would have to watch and cheer as a few of their comrades bayoneted prisoners to death. All the servicemen were then “treated to sake, the best meal they had had in months, and to so-called comfort girls. The result? They learned to associate committing violent acts with pleasure.” Likewise, today “[o]ur children watch vivid pictures of human suffering and death, learning to associate it with their favorite soft drink and candy bar, or their girlfriend’s perfume.”
  • Operant conditioning: “When people are frightened or angry, they will do what they have been conditioned to do…. [It's] stimulus-response, stimulus-response.” Thus, one of the ways the military increased riflemen’s willingness to shoot exposed enemies was to switch from the bull’s-eye targets of WWII training to “realistic, man-shaped silhouettes that pop into their field of view.” The soldiers have only a split-second to engage this new “stimulus” with the response of firing reflexively. As for kids, “every time a child plays an interactive point-and-shoot video game, he is learning the exact same conditioned reflex and motor skills.” This can help explain, says Grossman, why robbers under stress will sometimes reflexively shoot victims even when it wasn’t “part of the plan.”

If the above seems at all simplistic, note that it’s a life’s work boiled-down to 500 words. Suffice it to say, however, that entertainment has an effect. And do we really consider today’s entertainment benign? We’ve transitioned from a pre-TV America where boys sometimes brought real guns to school for target shooting to a TV-addicted America where boys bring toy guns to school and get suspended. And, of course, the reasons for this societal sea change are complex. But if we’re going to point to one factor, is it wiser to blame the AR-15 than PG-13?


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My daughter told me she can’t find my latest book, White Shell Woman’s Promise on Amazon.  Grrrr.  When it was first published I couldn’t find it myself!  I went into Kindle Digital Publishing to see what was up and discovered the spacing was off on the title.  I fixed that, resubmitted everything and there it was.  But today when I searched for the book by title Amazon said it doesn’t exist.  

Search by author, Karen Hopkins and you can find it–there it is–White Shell Woman’s Promise–with a double space between White and Shell.  What? I went back into Kindle Digital and checked–no problem on the publishing page, everything is entered correctly. What’s going on here?  

Amazon, why are you hiding my book??

Until we get this worked out, believe me, this title is available.  Look for me and find my books.  By tomorrow you should be able to click on my name and find everything I’ve published on my author’s page.  It should be easier.  So sorry.  

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Whoops!  White Shell Woman’s Promise should be up and available this morning on Amazon.  I know I said it was  available two days ago and I’m sorry if you looked in vain!!  But please don’t give up.  I’m sure you’ll enjoy this book!

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White Shell Woman’s Promise

My newest novel White Shell Woman’s Promise should be available this afternoon on Amazon.  White Shell Woman’s Promise like my novel Monster Slayer’s Son,  is set on the Navajo Reservation.  Billy Gray Eyes, the respected old medicine man is back along with his adopted daughter, Ernestine.  But this novel, White Shell Woman’s Promise, is Ernestine Yazzie’s story.

Ernestine recounts her life from her earliest childhood memories.  On the cusp of young womanhood she is the victim of a horrific, violent crime.  With no support and nowhere to turn she seeks out Billy Gray Eyes who offers her both emotional and spiritual support and protection.  But Ernestine learns that healing can only come ultimately through her own efforts, through acceptance and understanding of the tragedies in her life.

Follow Ernestine as she moves forward on a poignant,journey toward adulthood.  Surrounded by a dark world where lives are lost to alcoholism, drug use, indifference, violence, assault, suicide and murder she must decide who she is without losing her way in the chasm between two cultures.  How can she avoid hopelessness and despair when her hopes and dreams lay broken at her feet?

Ernestine along with other victims of serious crimes struggle to find  justice in an outdated system established by the federal government, a system which limits accountability and prevents tribal courts from sentencing perpetrators to more than one year per count with a three year maximum sentence no matter how serious the crime.

But there is another side–there are those who choose to seek harmony, hope and happiness, walking in the Way of Beauty.

Come follow Ernestine through heartache and triumphs on her journey to the path of Beauty.

Available on Kindle for $2.99


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Reblogging: 14 Maps That Show What Languages People Speak In The U.S.

Originally posted on A Maunderer's Wanders:

Taken from:


The Census Bureau maps show the areas of the United States where large concentrations of people speak a language at home other than English.

posted on August 6, 2013 at 3:09pm EDT

Hunter Schwarz

BuzzFeed Staff

An interactive map released by the Census Bureau Tuesday tracks where in the country there is a high concentration of people who speak a language other than English at home. According to the data, 58% of U.S. residents age 5 and older speak English “very well” and also speak a language other than English at home.

Nearly two-thirds of people who speak a language other than English at home speak Spanish (37.6 million). The third most-spoken language is Chinese (2.9 million), followed by Tagalog (1.6 million), Vietnamese (1.4 million), French (1.3 million), German (1.1 million), and Korean (1.1 million).

That state with the highest percentage of people who speak another language…

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Everything I Need to Know I Learned from my Dog

Just follow the dog!

When loved ones come home, run to greet them.  Give sloppy kisses and wag your tail with enthusiasm.  (They may push you away, but how can they help but love you?)

Never pass up the opportunity to go for a ride. 
Let the fresh air and the wind blow past your face and mess up your hair.  Enjoy pure ecstasy.

Practice obedience
.  Sometimes the best thing you can do is sit and listen.  If that doesn’t work you might roll over and play dead.

Let others know when they’ve invaded your territory.

Take naps often and stretch before rising. 
Run romp and play daily.  Watch out for cats. On warm days stop and lie on your back on the grass. 
On hot days drink lots of water and lay under a shady tree
.  Stay in touch with the earth.  Play in the fountain.

Respond positively to attention and let the people you love touch you. When you’re happy dance around and wag your entire body.

Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.

No matter how often you’re scolded 
don’t buy into the guilt thing.  Don’t pout or whine–
run right back and make-up.  (Okay, you can whine a little if you have a cookie balanced on your nose.)

Delight in the simple joy of a long walk. 
Eat with enthusiasm. 
Stop eating when you have had enough. STOP!

Be loyal. 
Never pretend to be something you’re not. (Remember you’re not really a dog, you’re just taking lessons from the master!)

When someone is having a bad day, 
be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.  Maybe they’ll scratch your ears.  A good ear massage can help you both.

If you want what’s buried,
 dig until you find it.  There are hidden treasures everywhere.  Now thank your dog and have a wonderful day!

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World Book Day

Today is World Book Day?  Just what I’ve been waiting for.  I’ve been thinking about books since I read someone else’s list of Most Important books.  Most Important sounds a little pretentious to me, but I started thinking about books I would put on a list–books I enjoyed, books that had an impact, books that I learned from, maybe even books that made me cry.

So here goes.

1.  My first book has to be The Book of Fascinating Facts.  It was a cheap paperback that I found in fourth grade and it was the perfect book for the fourth grade me.  I walked around asking, “Did you know . . .?” until I had exhausted the book and then I began listening for fascinating facts in the world around me.  Pretty soon I was spouting off new information and my mom would ask, “Did you get that from The Book of Fascinating Facts?” much to my delight.  My dad started calling me the Girl With Fascinating Facts, and my brothers covered their ears or told me to shut up.  What a great, life changing book!

2.  Fear No Evil by Natan Sharansky.  Obviously I was no longer in fourth grade when I read this book.  It was an example to me of integrity, of the determination to do what’s right despite circumstances.  I remember Morris was four years old when I first read Fear No Evil–more than a quarter century ago and I still think of Sharansky’s book, of his experience in the Gulag, his reliance on his faith, his willingness to stand firm.  Great book.

3.  Hamlet’s Mill by Santillana. This is a book I had to read and reread and still, every time I read it I learn new things. It talks about mythology and cosmology and it helped me see the world and our history in new and interconnected ways.  Not everyone will love this book, but for me it is such a true book.  I feel like reading Hamlet’s Mill is almost like getting a PhD.  I have to study, I have to think, I have to change my perceptions of the world, and then I have to read it again.  Mythology will never again be simple little stories that our simple ancestors told to explain the world.  Mythology is a complex  system used to pass information down across generations and millennia.  Pretty deep, huh?  This book makes my list of top books.

4. The Book of Mormon.  This is my most important book.  It explains everything else.  I think I like Hamlet’s Mill so much because it shows how interrelated everything is. The Book of Mormon shows how integrated God’s world really is.  It’s not us and them, it’s everybody.  I read it over and over again and I learn more every time I read it.  It testifies of Christ and his never-failing love for each of us in every part of the world.  It follows the rise and fall of civilizations, the atrocities committed by those who follow Satan, the love and integrity displayed by the humble followers of Christ. It gives me an example to follow and patterns to avoid. It helps me to know Christ and what he expects of me.

5.  Books touching on survival and atrocities around the world.  Babi Yar was a Nazi concentration camp near Kiev, Ukraine–one not as well known as Auschwitz. I read Babi Yar by Anatoly Kuznetsov, who as a young boy  sneaked into the camp to see what was happening inside (curiousity killed the cat, right?).  He survived and lived to become a witness of the atrocities committed inside.

To Destroy You is No Loss written by JoAn Criddle recounts the story of a young girl who survives the destruction of Phnom Penh and lives to witness the atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge before escaping to the United States. It is classified as young adult fiction but the story is poignant defying age classification.

Spring Moon by Bette Boa Lord is the story of Bette Bao’s younger sister who was left behind in China after Mao took over and closed the Chinese borders to the outside world.  Eventually the sister is reunited with her family.  What a contrast between the lives of the two women.  (I really like Bette Bao Lord’s books.  Her children’s book The Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson is delightful.)

Emma’s War is another atrocity book worth reading–the story of an aid worker in the Sudan who through her own naiveté ends up being killed in an area that is much more dangerous than she gives it credit for.  I won’t give these books each their own number.  It is the class of books that stands out for me.

6.  Shaman Priest.  The first book I wrote and published on Kindle, Shaman Priest takes place during the Guatemalan civil war.  The story follows three fictional characters through a very real landscape of war, death, horror and triumph.  Okay, it may not be a classic, but it was a major milestone for me!

7.  The Round House by Louise Erdrich.  Written by a Choctaw Indian this book drew me in.  I liked it so well wished I had written it.  My book Monster Slayer’s Son deals with the same problems of Justice and Law Enforcement of the Reservation.  But Louise Erdrich adds an emotional dimension that I will strive for in my next book. I read Round House after I wrote Monster Slayer’s Son and it inspired the book I am currently writing.

We have so many books we had to build a separate building to house our library.  But for World Book Day, these few will have to do.

Happy reading!  There is nothing like a good book.

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