Here in Madison, I go for walks past 20 or 30 blocks of houses — good-sized houses with lovely yards and neat sidewalks. Big shade trees line streets that are too narrow to attract any through traffic. And I don't see any children playing. I see an occasional toy vehicle like the one in the photograph, but not one child. No one rides by on a bike or a tricycle or scooter. Swing sets are empty. No one is playing hopscotch or jumping rope. There are no ball games or frisbees. No kids are running around and yelling. Nothing! Where are they?
It's like Episode 1 of "The Twilight Zone": "Where Is Everybody?" That aired in 1959. A man arrives in a town and finds it devoid of people. The story wouldn't even work today. You wouldn't understand what was so weird about a town without people in it and why the man found it so upsetting. You'd just be yeah, yeah, it's a town. So what? What is that guy's problem?
IN THE COMMENTS: Paddy O. said"
No children outside? Excellent. It's quiet! I can now get to all those great books I've been meaning to read. I can sit outside on my hammock and read and read and read. I have stacks of books I can now focus on. Hooray!ADDED: National Review's Lisa Schiffren responds here. Like many of the commenters on this post, she speculates that the children are involved in scheduled activities or indoor pursuits (like TV and video games). But she also thinks the birth rate is low, especially in Madison, which she says (correctly) "is very blue."
Oh no! I just sat on my reading glasses. Alas...
Shiffren then says a few things about abortion. I tend to think that the people who can afford to live in these nice suburban houses are competently using birth control and making their own free decisions about how many children to have. That may be why they send their kids to various planned activities. (Many commenters mentioned camp and pools.) It makes me wistful to see all the unused beautiful yards, and it's less sad if the kids are doing good things like camping. It's more sad if they are staring at TV and computer screens all the time.
And although it's really sad if the birth rate drops too low, but it's still good that people plan their family size, and I would not assume that that they achieve their goals by using abortion.
More importantly, it is incorrect to think that the incidence of abortion correlates with support for abortion rights. It doesn't! Look at the statistics. I haven't clicked on all 50 states, but I clicked on a lot of them and haven't found one with a lower incidence of abortion than Wisconsin's. It may be that people who support abortion rights are well-educated and realistic, that is, better at running their own lives and not getting pregnant by accident.