Batt, James R. (ed.) / Wisconsin Academy review
Volume 20, Number 4 (Fall 1974)
Take this..., p. 26
The Wisconsin Humanities Committee is trying to bring the humanists with their expertise in the study of values together with people to discuss public policy issues. A town meeting, lecture se- ries, workshop, conference-what- ever format encourages a public discussion of current social issues -is in order. These could include human rights, health, ecology, ed- ucation, economy, aging, urban and rural development or decline, crime, transportation, and other issues which often affect or are affected by public policies. Each of the fifty states has a humanities program; each one has a theme. In Wisconsin it's taxation. It's all about taxation then. Our first impulse is to turn the whole question of taxation over to the political scientist and run. But with a little time and some thought, the focusing of the humanities on tax- ation becomes challenging, excit- ing, and illuminating. The Wis- consin Humanities Committee accepted the challenge. In 1973, after working with people from throughout the state, the Commit- tee decided on the broad theme of taxation. It then narrowed the focus to how monies were raised and spent. Finally, and most im- portant, the need to discuss the human values which support our tax structure surfaced. "Human Values at Stake in Public Taxing and Spending" evolved and was unanimously accepted as the theme. Everyone agreed it was most timely and much needed. The stage has been set then for a series of talks throughout Wis- consin on the multiple facets of taxation. We could explore how they impinge on or facilitate our daily lives. In these discussions, humanists, minority groups, school administrators, civic or- ganizations, journalists, media representatives, senior citizens, al- dermen, extension agents, county board members, single parents, property owners-to suggest only a few-could creatively develop proposals. The general topic is taxation; the place could be any- where and the audience just about anyone if humanists are present. In the discussions so generated, the historian could contrast the fundamental differences in tax policies between a democratic so- ciety and others. The professor of literature might probe recent novels of Bellow, Updike, and Vonnegut to explore contempo- rary American values and the tax structure and tax exemptions they suggest. The philosopher could ask the big questions, examine current priorities, and dramatize the discrepancies between our ideal values and working values. Should the property tax bear the brunt of supporting schools? Are the unmarried taxed too much? Should we have public supported day care centers? Together with people from every walk of life, the humanist will be able to center the value of history, literature, and philosophy in these and other issues such as welfare, court re- form, women's rights, the energy crisis, pollution problems, educa- tio n, transportation, and land use. These are some specific ap- proaches to general tax questions. Whatever the issue, the human- ists will encourage us to be con- cerned about our value choices, our ethical judgments, and their ramifications. They will pose ques- tions of rights and responsibilities. They will clarify issues through an historic perspective and suggest alternatives through comparisons or contrasts with events in other places. This is the function of the hu- manist in any culture, but particu- larly in a democracy. In discuss- ing "Human Values at Stake in Public Taxing and Spending," the Wisconsin Humanities Committee invites the citizen and the humanist to participate in what may be some of the most important dis- cussions of 1974 and 1975. * * * Editor's Note: Guidelines for pro- posal preparation are available by writing the Wisconsin Humani- ties Committee, 816 State Street, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, or by phoning (608) 262-0706. The theme "Human Values at Stake in Public Taxing and Spending" will be in effect through fall, 1975. 26 Take This... By Bea Cameron Take this pain, I said to the words, carry it away. And when I looked up they stood again at my shoulder. I saw then that they had come to conduct me through unaltering twilights: past where a man stood singing alone in a field of grass, past the dead crouched like urns, like beggars without hands, along the raw-ripped road down to the blue underground passage- There was a woman guarding your chamber, I gave her a letter for you, did you hear, 0 did you hear.
Copyright 1974 by the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters.| For information on re-use, see http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/Copyright