Midwestern backyards lack fences. Why the custom is different from the concrete block walls of New Mexico or El Paso’s rock walls, I don’t know.
Community benefits of the openness include homeowners accommodating one another when choosing a boundary for mowing. Open space allows kids to wander from house to house via backyards. Woods (small groves of trees) might fill the back parts of lots. Paul Ryan had these things when growing up in Janesville, Wisconsin, where he still lives, just down the street from his childhood home.
Ryan climbed the political ladder from junior class president to semi-accidental congressman elected in 1998 at age 28, to Republican policy guru to candidate for vice president in 2012. An important step for Ryan was the decision to spend a semester in Washington, D.C., which became a job with Wisconsin Sen. Bob Katsen, who “was a wonk, which is to say he was my kind of guy,” Ryan said. (All quotes are from Ryan’s memoir and policy manifesto, “The Way Forward, Renewing the American Dream,” published in August.
That job led to an entry-level position with Empower America, the Jack Kemp-Bill Bennett think tank. The rest, as they say, is history. Kemp’s thinking permeates Ryan. For those who forget, Kemp was kind of an ultimate economic policy wonk politician.