For example: suppose one concursnwith Carlson’s analysis of the problematicneffects over time of Social Securitynon income transfer from the youngnto the old, thus loosening family bonds.n(Do not suppose that / suppose that: Inam really unsure and I haven’t donenthe reading and research that wouldngive me the right to proffer even anprovisionary opinion.) That the systemnon the macro level “relies” on a suffi-nLIBERAL ARTSnYOU CAN BURN IT,nTRAMPLE IT, BUT JUSTnDON’T FLY ITnGena Contreras didn’t like the snappingnand popping of neighbor Lee Bach’s bignU.S. flag atop a 40-foot flagpole. So shenfiled a public-nuisance case. Tuesday, inna Las Cruces, N.M., courtroom, thenWodd War II naval veteran was foundnguilty of violating a noise law by flyingnthe flag on windy days. About 80 veteransnresponded to the verdict by hissing,nand Bach responded, “If it’s criminal tonfly the flag, then I’m John Dillinger.”nMunicipal Judge Jose Coronado delayednsentencing to give Bach and Contrerasntime to work out an agreement (thenoffense could warrant 90 days in’jail andna $300 fine). But Bach said there wouldnbe no settlement. Bach said he wouldnappeal. “I’m going to fly it every dayncome hell or high water.”n—from the San Diego Union,nJune 24, 1989nNow that a Navy veteran has replacednan American flag whose loud flappingnbothered a neighbor, his conviction hasnbeen thrown out by a local judge.nJudge Joe Galvan of District Courtndismissed the case Monday, acting innthe case of Lee Bach, who was convictednof violating the city’s noise law threenweeks ago after a neighbor complainednthat his nylon flag was too noisy onnwindy days.n”The flag is not making any noisenanymore ever since he put up a cottonnflag,” Stephen Ryan, an assistant citynattorney, told the judge.n”It’s unfortunate that something asnimportant and sacred to all of us as thenAmerican flag should create turmoil innthe community,” Judge Galvan said.n—AP, July 12, 1989n28/CHRONICLESncienriy large number of children ton”pay for promised future pensions andnother welfare benefits” yet, simultaneously,nmakes “childbearing economicallynfoolish,” does put the system, innan aggregate sense, in an anomalousnsituation. But does it follow from thisnthat those ordinary Americans innwhom Carlson places such trust willnknowingly cut the number of childrennthey might have had in light of theirnassumption that, macroeconomically,nother folks will have a sufficient numbernof children to keep the systemnintact from which they will derivenbenefits once they reach age 65? I havena hunch that “baby or no baby” decisionsndon’t come about like that.nBut it is to Carison’s fourth thesis,nnamely that “the American system ofnliberal capitalism holds an unusual relationshipnwith the family institution,”nthat I want to turn in order to offer anfew insights from the vantage point ofnpolitical and social theory. Carlson describesnthe nuclear family “fit” withnliberal capitalism, when it is at itsnhappiest point of symbiosis, as one innwhich the family provides both ballastnand the possibility for sufficient mobilitynsuch that it (“as a highly mobilenunity”) can “follow the market signalsnthat would raise their incomes whilenalso increasing market efficiency.”nThis is, at best, a highly unstable,nasymmetrical relationship, and thenfamily as the intergenerational matrixnof human identity is bound to wither asnmobility wins. And when mobilitynwins, people are more and more severednfrom the ties that bind. This bodesnill for the survival of anything thatnresembles the supporting surroundingsn(kin, neighborhoods) that help to sustainnfamilial relations. Carison’s doublencommitment to robust families and anrobust market is, at best, riddled withnambiguities.nDemocratic politics and familiesnhave always existed in tension with onenanother. Capitalism and families havenalways existed in tension with onenanother. Indeed, I daresay, socialismnand families are not a happy mix.nMaybe this tells us something aboutnfamilies. Michael Walzer, in Spheres ofnJustice, suggests that attempts, whethernfrom defenders or opponents of thenmarket, to restructure the family innorder to make it “fit” neatly with somenabstract scheme of total justice or somennnoverarching systemic macroeconomicntheory, are always problematic, evenndisastrous. Carlson, I believe, recognizesnthis — indeed, even endorses it. Butnhis commitment to capitalism andndemocracy—but only if the family (asn”ballast”) survives — does not, finally,nwork, at least not in the way he wants itnto and the way his arguments requirenthat it must. The “Family Policy for anFree People” he promulgates at thenconclusion of Family Questions relies,nas he recognizes, on continued productivitynand prosperity, and that maynnot be in the cards. Plus, many of thenwelfare state measures- he blasts forntheir baneful unintended consequencesn(and sometimes their baneful intendednones, on his reading) are ancomplex concatenation of expertnschemas and popular initiatives andndemands based upon real needs andngenuine troubles.nI have no solution. I am not evennsure how best to formulate many of thenproblems. But I agree with Allan Carlsonnthat what might be called then”unbearable lightness” of many bynownthreadbare liberal-statist approaches,napproaches that consistently enablentheir proponents to refuse to look atnthe dark underside of their welladvertisednnostrums, has lost credibility.nCarlson has plenty of company onnthe independent left in that assessment.nBut where these thinkers, myselfnincluded, must stand apart is in ournrespective assessments of what capitalismnis and what it does. When Carlsonntalks about capitalism the images arenthose of forces unloosed — rather likenMarx in The Communist Manifesto —nwith outcomes that are far more beneficialnthan baneful. Macroeconomicallynspeaking, he may be right. But anheavy price in human misery has beennpaid and continues to be paid along thenway. When prices in the gas pumps innNashville, Tennessee, jump three ornfour cents per gallon just two days afternthe Exxon Valdez has forever marred anprecious environment and destroyedntens of thousands of innocent creaturesnwith whom we share this planet, Inknow something is amiss. I would likenAllan Carlson’s analysis of what thatnis — precisely because he is a man whonloves his family and his country, andnwho worries about our particular andncollective fates.nn