A Policy Agenda for Climate Change Video Transcript

Hello and welcome, to this special event from WithLiberty, I am James Rice, your host and founder of WithLiberty.

So what is climate change, exactly? The Climate crisis is ongoing. Greenhouse gas emissions hit a new high in 2019, and 2020 has brought accelerated warming due to the reduction of cooling pollution or smog. The Glaciers are melting at unprecedented rates, while monsoons, hurricanes, and forest fires threaten our communities across the globe. The Permafrost in Siberia and Northern Canada is melting, while the ice cover at the poles is shrinking every year.

But first, why do we care about climate change and what are governments doing to combat it?

We care because we are all children of the world. In the future, the likelihood that natural disaster could strike anywhere on the planet, disrupting our way of life and threatening our lives, is increased immensely. The atmosphere, a delicate balance of gases which cultivated the birth of life and humanity, is being altered by humans. This change upsets the balance, creating huge risks to us by way of rapidly changing weather patterns, deadlier storms, heat waves, and instability. This will be the main force shaping our natural world for decades if not centuries to come, and it has happened faster than any change ever before in the history of our atmosphere and the history of earth.

But we have known about this for some time now. Governments, slow as ever to react, are beginning to take action. The rest of this speech will be an update on the current scientific state of climate change and international climate policy.

The Paris Climate Agreement which calls for a reduction in Greenhouse Gas emissions so as to meet the target of less than 2 degrees Celsius warming by 2100, is not on track to being met. Greenhouse Gas concentrations in the atmosphere continue to rise. In 2019 Global greenhouse gas emissions were 59.1 gigatons of carbon dioxide. That is 59.1 thousand million tons including the effects of land use change. Since 2010, Greenhouse Gas emissions without land use change have grown at 1.3 per cent per year on average. Over the last decade, the top four emitters (China, the United States of America, The European Union plus UK, and India) have contributed to 55 percent of the total Greenhouse Gas emissions without land use change. The top seven emitters (including Russia, Japan and international transport) have contributed to 65 percent, with G20 members accounting for 78 percent of total emissions. It is the wealthy people in developed countries who have to make the change if we are to avert this crisis.

The emissions gap is defined by the UNEP as the difference between the greenhouse gas emission levels consistent with a specific probability of limiting the average global temperature rise to below 2°C or 1.5°C in 2100 above pre-industrial levels and the GHG emission levels consistent with the global effect of the nationally determined contributions, assuming full implementation from 2020. 

The United Nations Secretary-General is calling on governments to use COVID-19 recovery as an opportunity to create more sustainable, resilient and inclusive societies. Aligned with this, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has stressed that governments can integrate and specify some of their post-COVID-19 recovery plans and policies in their new or updated nationally determined contributions (NDCs) as well as in their long-term mitigation strategies.

Collectively, G20 members are not on track to achieve their unconditional Nationally Determined Contributions based on current policies. Nine of the sixteen G20 members, counting the European Union plus the UK as one member, are likely to achieve their unconditional Nationally Determined Contribution targets under current policies. These members are Argentina, China, the European Union plus the UK, India, Japan, Mexico, the Russian Federation, South Africa and Turkey. Among them, four countries (Argentina, India, the Russian Federation and Turkey) are projected to reach emission levels that are 14–34 per cent lower than their respective NDC emissions target levels. 

For five G20 members, Greenhouse Gas emissions by 2030 are projected to fall short of their unconditional Nationally Determined Contribution target and require further action of varying degree: Australia, Brazil, Canada, the Republic of Korea and the United States of America. 

Nationally Determined Contributions are submissions by countries that have ratified the Paris Agreement which present their national efforts to reach the Paris Agreement’s long-term temperature goal of limiting warming to well below 2°C. New or updated Nationally Determined Contributions are to be submitted in 2020 and every five years thereafter. Nationally Determined Contributions thus represent a country’s current ambition/target for reducing emissions nationally. 

All countries urgently need to strengthen their mitigation ambition and accelerate action to change current emission trends and get on track to achieving the long-term temperature goals of the Paris Agreement. This is especially the case for G20 members, who account for about 78 percent of global emissions. Most G20 major emitters have only made marginal progress in shifting their future emissions trajectories downward, with several others not even on track to meet their Nationally Determined Contributions. 

The COVID-19 crisis begets an opportunity in the face of these facts. To rebuild the economy in a way that is sustainable we can do a few different things at the national and state policy level. First, we can invest in green jobs. The transition to a net zero carbon economy will produce vastly more new jobs – jobs that are also healthier and safer than jobs in the fossil fuel industry.  Climate action, with a focus on the energy sector, can generate 24 million new jobs by 2030. The IEA estimates that 9 million jobs could be created every year for the next three years with the proper investments in sustainable energy. The New Nature Economy report found that a new economic model based on working with nature rather than against it could generate up to $10.1 trillion in annual business value and create 395 million jobs by 2030.

Public spending in key areas can help drive economic and job growth while reducing climate impacts. Areas ripe for these investments include:

  1. Infrastructure investments that range from renewable energy assets, (storage, sustainable hydrogen, grid modernization) to health and social care, social housing, and the digital economy.

2.   Buildings that are energy efficient including renovations and retrofits with improved insulation, heating, and domestic energy storage systems. 

3. Education and training to help people who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 find new and gainful employment and to address the structural shifts required to decarbonize the economy. 

4. Investing in nature- for ecosystem resilience and regeneration including restoration of carbon-rich habitats and climate-friendly agriculture. 

5. Research & development to assist rural economies in embracing sustainable agriculture, ecosystem regeneration, or accelerating renewable energy installations. 

The second thing we can do the rebuild the economy in a way that champions renewables is to refuse to bailout polluting industries and sectors. WithLiberty believes that companies that understand the risks of climate change on their bottom line and which are able to identify opportunities to pivot to sustainable business models are likely to be more financially sustainable than others and will create more value for their shareholders, their customers and their communities. Government funding – in the form of direct subsidies or other forms of financial support – should therefore depend on clear climate commitments from businesses. At a minimum, public bail-outs could include certain obligations by companies. These could include an obligation to provide climate-related financial risk disclosures, as well as obligations to set clearly defined initial decarbonization targets for 2030, in line with an objective of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Additionally, companies that receive taxpayer money should have an investment plan outlining how new investments will contribute to the companies’ emissions reduction trajectory. 

In the interest of aligning our national economy with the Paris Climate agreement, taxpayer money should never go to industries that are doing nothing to reduce their emissions. This is not in the interest of any citizen.

Next, we must end fossil fuel subsidies. Making carbon intensive industries and products more expensive to operate and produce creates incentives to divest from these industries, and frees up money for renewables. In 2019, $150 billion went to subsidize oil products, $115 billion for electricity, $50 billion for natural gas and $2.5 billion for coal. This is unacceptable. The damage done by these products is almost irreparable in our lifetimes and the costs almost insurmountable. No taxpayer money should be going to these industries.

By creating new sources of public finance, carbon pricing can help governments invest more in other priority areas such as healthcare, education or infrastructure, and ensure a just transition of the workforce. For instance, workers whose jobs could be affected by a transition to a world powered by sustainable energy – like those working in the fossil fuel industry – should not be left behind. Instead they should be supported to find new and better income-generating opportunities.

In oil and gas producing countries and coal-rich economies, fiscal stimulus could usefully be invested in an early phase-out of the least competitive assets, the diversification of their economy, and supportive measures for workers and regions which will be impacted by the transition.

Assessing the size of climate-related risks on the financial system, requires developing new analytical tools that, for example, integrate climate scenarios into regular “stress tests.” Stress tests are already conducted by regulatory authorities to assess the resilience and strength of banking institutions in adverse situations.

Central banks and financial supervisors must ensure that climate-related risks are well incorporated into individual financial institutions’ strategies and risk management procedures. While voluntary disclosure of climate-related risks is a necessary first step, it is increasingly urgent that this becomes mandatory to strengthen and ingrain the integration of climate-related risks into the system.

Financial institutions should better understand climate-related risks and consider them in their risk management procedures and investment decisions, as well as in their longer-term strategies. The changes in climate policies, new technologies, and growing physical risks will prompt reassessments of the values of virtually every financial asset, and firms that align their business models to the transition to a net zero world will be rewarded—while those that fail to adapt will be heavily penalized.

There has been a surge in interest from companies in adopting sustainable business plans and science-based targets that are compatible with a 1.5°C scenario, yet with a few notable exceptions, markets and major financial institutions have yet to take climate related risks seriously.

The Paris Agreement is built on cooperation between countries. Emissions anywhere affect everyone, everywhere, so it is imperative that countries work together to reduce emissions, build resilience, and reduce the worst impacts of climate change.

International cooperation and multilateralism are essential to recover form the economic crisis ushered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Most countries have experienced a decline of their revenues with a simultaneous increase of their spending due to the pandemic. For many developing economies this means more public debt and bigger deficit. The pressure on governments, particularly in developing countries, to service these growing external debts limits their ability to roll-out policy measures that promote investments in productive sustainable assets (like renewable energy, or sustainable transport solutions). Addressing this widespread sovereign debt crisis is necessary to create the fiscal and policy space for governments to invest in a strong decarbonized, fair and resilient recovery.

Climate action is a growing need in the world economy, and will be a growing sector of industry as the world awakens to the real and dangerous risks which climate change poses. Awareness of these risks, advocacy, and action are the first steps. In order to hold our governments and commercial industry accountable, we must also hold ourselves to account. WithLiberty knows that climate action must be undertaken now, today, in order to secure the future for ourselves and our posterity. We believe that change happens in the mind, and also in the hearts of US citizens. And that hope for the future will be our guiding light when all others have gone out. 

Climate change is near and dear to me as well. It hurts me to think how past generations have unwittingly harmed the world and put all of our futures at risk. Read the UNEP report on the emissions gap from 2020. Understand the position we are in. And finally, ask yourself what it is you really believe in. 

WithLiberty: A New Market for Non-Profits Video Transcript

The Covid Crisis has done immense harm to global progress. A pandemic with complex interlinkages has exacerbated vulnerabilities in our healthcare systems and shed light on inequalities and inequities in our communities and the world as a whole. Within this framework, our communities have struggled to make sense of the conflicting messages we are getting from local government leaders. Siloed information distribution has hindered progress towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals on a global scale. The Pandemic has stopped or reversed decades of progress towards some of the most important achievements humanity has strived for. We must acknowledge policy failures, current and future needs to ensure that the recovery leads to more equal, inclusive, and sustainable economies. An integrated systems approach needs to be taken to risk reduction and the reconstruction of our societies. A more resilient world can be built back better. 

We at WithLiberty are working to achieve these aforementioned goals in our local community. We are educating, strengthening, and building a sustainable society for all. As a civil society organization, we have a shared responsibility to safeguard our development gains, in the United States, and abroad. The continued education of people at all levels of society is paramount to awareness of the risks we face. We need to raise the level of ambition towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals set out by the United Nations in the 2030 Agenda. Beyond action on poverty, inequality, and gender equity, the Sustainable Development Goals call on us to take decisive action on climate, transition to clean power generation, and embrace the circular economy. In particular, SDG 17, Partnerships for the Goals, calls for integrated policy responses which are key to governance, social protection, managed care, biodiversity loss, human rights concerns, and urban development. 

Multilateralism and cooperation are the key international drivers of prosperity and growth. Politically, there is no question that collaborative global trust and power sharing are necessary for continued peace. WithLiberty works on the axis of this dynamically changing landscape of international cooperation. The need to build intercultural competencies for SDG partnerships is continuously growing. Our mission is to educate and inform our local community about the nature of the relationships between and within nation states, and of the mission of our world leaders, like the United Nations, in order to enable new perspectives on the problems we face at home. 

In order to avoid the dangers of climate change, adverse technological advances, and governance failure, we must all become more informed citizens. We need a transformational shift in the way we think about our world and the way that we conduct our daily lives. The institutions that govern our system of trade and communications are aging. In order to revitalize, strengthen, and maintain these institutions, the world must understand why they exist and how they operate. If we want to restore trust in these organizations, we need education. As a vital Sustainable Development Goal, It is imperative that the entire 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is met. The diversity of the needs of countries across the globe hinges on the calling that no one be left behind, in education and in other areas such as hunger and employment. In order to achieve these goals, we need to be fully committed to working hand in hand with international organizations and states. 

Too often we forget that the United States is not alone in the world. The protectionist policies that have been implemented over the last four years have not only affected our trade practices. They have closed off the minds of US citizens to the needs of the world. If we are to recover from both the pandemic and the last four years of populism, we need to build back better. This means that we must solve problems through international cooperation, solidarity, and cohesion. We cannot leave the world alone at the very time when it needs all hands on deck. We can build on the strength of our institutions to create a new era of renaissance in which everyone is given a voice, and a place in the world order. But without acceptance and acknowledgement of the diverse peoples of the human race, we will fail. The solutions which WithLiberty is committed to providing, are a strengthening of our culture. They are an affirmation of our global history, and a rebirth of the values which we have held dear for decades.

Now I am going to say few words on youth entrepreneurship.

Young people seeking funding for a business start-up often have limited options to raise capital. If they have just left school, they are unlikely to have savings. Their youth may be off-putting to outside investors or they may lack confidence. They may lack the networks needed to hear about and reach the public and private funds targeting entrepreneurial starts-ups. Access to external funding typically relies upon 1) sufficient human and social capital to know about such schemes, 2) coming up with a fundable idea that would attract investment,

and 3) a sufficiently robust business plan. For more information see the report “Exploring Youth Entrepreneurship” Published by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

Many of the initiatives profiled today inherently consist of various types of entrepreneurship and therefore it is necessary to provide training, skills development, awareness building and sensitization, as delivered by WithLiberty and a range of actors, including universities, colleges, other NGOs, and non-profits, development agencies, incubators, community organizations, government programmes, and social enterprises. At the heart of our programmes will be four key objectives:

   • To increase awareness of entrepreneurship as a career option;

   • To help individuals brainstorm and focus on a viable business idea;

   • To provide inputs into the development of a business plans and subsequent enterprises; and,

   • To provide a range of skills needed to become a successful entrepreneur.

We will deliver this in various mediums and platforms, remotely or in person. Options include taught classes, seminars, in-community events, workshops, podcasts, training programmes, webinars, online education and small conferences aimed at youth.

The importance of capacity building in the achievement of the SDGs cannot be overstated. The United States is choked with large firms taking up great amounts of market share, however all too often their goals and mission do not align with the 2030 Agenda. WithLiberty is among the first of a new generation of organizations in the United States and Connecticut, led by the vision of the Sustainable Development Goals, and answering the call for global transformational change within and between our communities. Our mission brings our expertise and intuition to bear in local communities, while our vision extends to those places of the world which have yet to feel the effects of globalization in any measurable way. As an organization we are a “builder,” we empower students, artists, academics, small business owners, scientists, and the public sector to think outside of our local community, in order to secure the future for our children and our grandchildren. 

Finally, a few words on the importance and construction of global partnerships.

By nature of their name, global partnerships involve cooperation that is global rather than bilateral or domestic. These partnerships operate within the broad framework of the multilateral system, connecting diverse sets of actors across jurisdictions in response to problems with transnational dimensions. They are configured as network-based organizational structures that involve horizontal, non-universal, and reciprocal interactions around a common purpose. Such a structure is distinct from the legalized, bureaucratic organization of the multilateral system, which has traditionally relied largely on intergovernmental agreements and a vertical scheme of domestic implementation. Willing, self-selective participation in partnerships can be based on a set of commonly shared norms, which are then further amplified and exported through the network of the partnership by processes of learning, trust building, monitoring, or implementation. Much of these definitions of partnerships are pulled from “Governance Entrepreneurs” published by Cambridge University Press in 2017.

I would like to close with a personal story. I graduated college this spring in the United States. My journey was difficult. I was diagnosed with Schizophrenia in the Fall of 2017 and had to drop out of the college I fondly call my alma mater. What kept me going, the idea that pushed me to recovery, was this. “That the world can be a better place for all of us.” WithLiberty is the realization of that idea, it is a personal and professional journey to make that world a better place. Here and now. In my own community, and across the world. Thank you.

Further Remarks on Our Mission

If you have read anything about agent based modeling you know, in the words of the Santa Fe Institute, that agent based modeling is the route to taking charge of humanity’s future. We are going to be able to predict possible future scenarios and then alter their probabilities using simulation, and artificial agent based analysis. This has vast implications for public policy. If we can definitively say ex ante that a policy will have a given effect then there is no excuse in our governments to implement policies which are not directly in the public interest. To further the cause, this is exacerbated by the complexities of the society and planet we live on. in order to save the human race from itself, we must take hold of our collective future. Today. 

The Anthropocene Equation

Occasionally a paper comes across our desk which warrants further attention. “The Anthropocene Equation” is one of those papers. The anthropocene is the current anthropological and geological epoch which we are currently living in. It is in essence an epoch where in which all change on earth is driven by human activity. This paper by Owen Gaffney and Will Steffen dilutes this idea into a simple mathematical form. It is important for our readers to understand the context and backdrop our work has within the global system, not just the political one. Read the article here.

A Christmas Eve Fugue into the World of Primes

In the spirit of Gödel, Esher, Bach, by Douglas Hofstader, which I am currently getting immense enjoyment out of, I bring to you this Christmas Eve a tale about the largest corporation on the planet. Amazon’s Prime has exploded, it encompasses everything you could ever want, theoretically at least. There is no end to the things you can order to your doorstep with Prime, and lightning fast too. But where did the idea for “Prime” come from, (specifically the name) and what do we think of when we see it?

Well let’s take a foray into number theory to find out. Yes, I am speaking of prime numbers. The dreaded primes we learned in grade school, before upper level math courses I thought all you could do with these numbers was one thing; multiply them by one to get themselves. However, it turns out that primes have an almost unlimited number of interesting properties and the way in which you describe a number as ‘prime’ has an infinite number of connotations that come with it. In the language of mathematical logic, when you say that a number is a prime (say for instance 23), you are saying that any two combinations of numbers, when multiplied with each other do not equal that number, EXCEPT, that number and one. So when you take 23, and call it prime, you are saying that (55) does not equal 23, nor does (612), nor does (96923756040506846) or any combination of two number except for 1 and 23. Now you must keep in mind that multiplication is commutative, but the result is the same. 1 and 23 in either order (yes, there are only two) is the only thing that makes 23 using multiplication. And since there are an infinite number of possibilities of combinations of two numbers we can put together to NOT make 23, then we are in fact saying an infinite number of things about the number 23 when we are calling it prime.

This I think says something about Amazon and their business strategy. It says that with the creation (inception if you will) of Amazon Prime, they plan to sell and ship an infinite number of things. And they have. That is almost the scary thing.

So the purpose of this short sojourn was to show that the word prime does not have to come with the precursor word ‘Amazon’. It has other meanings. So when you gather for the holidays this season, whatever it may be that you celebrate, don’t describe how pleased you were that your gift came just in time through the good graces of Amazon and its ephemeral spin off ‘Prime’ think about the science, and culture and remember why we are all here, on earth, together. Our lives are not here for the corporations, not here for consumption, not here even for working. It is up to us to create life. To create all the light that life brings. If we do not take ownership of our lives, someone else will.

Poetic Perspectives

All good poetry should rhyme, 

Or so they say.

There’s no way you’ll ever make a dime,

Or so they say.

I just want to make you mine, 

Now press play.

Gotta steal your time to make up for mine.

Sorry, that’s the way.

Did it ever occur to you that the atoms that make up our bodies are nothing more than an adjudicated, self-immolating  pile of refuse, set out for the sole purpose to create nothingness?

Mystery is history when all and all combine.

Flirtations and salutations are all we’ll be when the planets do align. 

No one knows and no one throws a stone too far away. 

Fear without a real good stout, 

And your mind’s a blank-out they say.

Analyze the situation, find a function, prove it out. Add, subtract, divide, nothing more nothing less. The world can be understood using the tools of Math-e-mat-i-c-s. 

Escape the news, escape the booze, we’ve got to be on our way. 

There’s four score and plenty more idiots here to stay. 

But if you go remember this, and never forget your mind. 

It’s always on time at the end of the line,

And will do you one more good deed. 

There was a man, his name was me, And he is you now. 

He is the one, the all thinking one, who will never let you down.

Description:

I wrote this poem a few weeks ago. I think that it says something about the world we live in, hence it is here. Stay tuned for more.

A Cultural Critique of the Netflix Business Model

The word that comes to mind today when I think of Netflix is this; a spectacle. It’s as if they have taken the Roman Colosseum and placed it online, where individuals from any and all origins come to be oogled at, their stories laughed at and the crowdsourced plotlines sink to the bottom of the watery depths of America’s culture problem.

Last night I had the opportunity to watch a new movie that was put out in 2019, called “The Professor and the Madman.” Now this would normally be my sort of thing, as I consider myself to be somewhat of an academic, and I also have firsthand experience with mental illness, having been to the hospital twice in the last three years for symptoms related to schizophrenia. The premise of the story is that England needs a dictionary, from Oxford University Press, and one man, who is fluent in many languages is going to provide it with the help of his friend who has recently been found not guilty by reason of insanity for killing an innocent man in London.

I must admit to you, I watched five minuted of the movie before I turned it off. The beginning starts with the criminal (or madman), William Minor, killing the unarmed man, and his subsequent trial. He is pronounced not guilty after an outburst that sounded as if he had both a speech impediment, and schizophrenia. No man in their right mind would try to defend themselves in that way and many NOT in their right mind would also not try to defend themselves in that way. But everyone is different so for the moment I let it slide.

Now I have to tell you what my thought was at the beginning of the movie up until this point. I was hoping, despite the gory killing and ruling of not gouty by reason of insanity by the jury, that the madman would be somehow redeemed. However I turned off the movie at this very moment, and I will tell you why.

There is no hope for redemption or healing for William Minor in the movie. As I said in the beginning of this article, the movie is a spectacle just like most of the new movies put on Netflix these days. It portrays a madman like the public sees him, irredeemable and irresistibly crazy. A reading of the Wikipedia page for the plot of the rest of the movie has confirmed this. Minor leaves the movie just as crazy as he was when the movie began, with no defining qualities as to his character other than the fact that he was crazy.

I believe (and please feel free to comment below if you think that I’m wrong) that this is the effect that populism has had on Netflix. When Netflix switched to a streaming only platform paid for by subscriptions, they essentially said “Ok we know that the people want movies and TV shows. Let’s give them movies and TV shows.” This was done in the most general way thinking only about quantity, not quality. The emphasis has been placed on unknown actors rather than real stars. It has been placed on muddled thoughts of diversity and categories like “Black Stories,” which do nothing to raise awareness of and of the challenges that black people go through today. It focuses on TV miniseries such as “The Queens Gambit” and “The Crown,” which are eccentric only in their dullness, and watched by anyone because of the all knowing “if you watched this, you may like…”

The Netflix suggestion algorithm is designed to make you watch as many of THEIR shows as possible. That is where they make the real money. They don’t want to pay movie distributors for the rights to movies which are not theirs. They want you to watch their movies on their platform, designed without real viewers in mind. Now you may ask how I know so much about this platform which I abhor (it’s my mother).

Possibly to be continued, with glimmers of hope.

A Letter to Our Readers

Dear Reader,

You may have noticed an update to our ‘About’ page. In it we describe our ever-changing philosophy. At first glance you may think that the essay is about how we are becoming a culture oriented organization, and you wouldn’t be too far off. However culture extends to art and music, and oftentimes art, music, and business (as much at this website can be called a business) don’t mix. So, you might ask, what is going on here? Well, let me explain.

In reality, and by intention the post in the ‘About’ page is not about culture at all, it is about technology. That is the technology of Artificial Intelligence and the changes which it promises to bring. So first let me briefly bring you up to speed on recent developments in AI theory. Here we will talk about AI strategy and philosophy, not applications (which are the main aspects of AI research you see in the news today). AI today is working its way towards being a cohesive “formal system,” that is a system which can know things about itself, and be able to tell us about the world around us. These two things are very important, some formal systems lack the former and are only able to tell us things about our world, and these are not the types of systems which humans are currently designing with today’s AI. In essence the overall strategy is to design a system which can align with humans values and with humanity in general, so that when it does become more intelligent than we are, it will do what we want. This in essence is the thinking of today’s theoretical and philosophical AI researchers. The researchers at the Future of Humanity Institute, The Future of Life Institute, The Machine Intelligence Research Institute, The Open Philanthropy Project, The Center for Existential Risk and many others are doing this research in order to protect us form this technology which promises to be able to think and do pretty much anything better than we can.

So where does culture fit into this you might ask? Well, I have another answer for you. Most people working in the field are working in order to get to a point so that there will always be room for humans. In order to work alongside robots, and in order to live our lives with them, we must become better versions of ourselves. We must continue to do the things which make us truly human. To those of us at WithLiberty these things are cultural.

So while the statement is a plan of action for our business, or foundation, or whatever you would like to call it, it is also a statement of our operational philosophy. And I would like direct your attention to the last paragraph on the page:

We spread economic freedom and the ideas of liberty, by practicing them. Our network is predicated on the advancement of society and its culture. Our audience is the planet. We are an experiment in living and learning. We accept any human who wishes to make a contribution to our cause. We leave no one behind. We believe that the best of humanity is of what is yet to come, so our business plan is this: we will open the door.

The first line, is political and is a theory of change for today’s increasingly uncertain world stage. We believe that in order to maintain and further the blessings of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we must embody those things in all of our lives. We extend this notion to the arts, sciences, and everything in between. And finally, the last line. This is our philosophy for the future. We plan to open the door for the next chapter. To usher the people of the world, whoever they may be, into the future, dignified, proud, and resolute, ready for any challenge.

That is the mission of WithLiberty, and Thank You, Dear Reader, for coming along with me and with all us on our journey. Wherever the road may take you, WithLiberty stands with you.

James Rice

Founder and Leader of the Board

Banisadr

Ali Banisadr’s installation at the Matrix gallery at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut is a haunting, yet realistic metaphor for the world we live in today. The artist exhibits 12 original works along with a curated section with works by other artists which were available in the museum’s archive, and were ‘inspirations’ for the artists work. Upon entering the gallery, your eye immediately goes to the largest work which stands opposite the door for added effect. It is entitled the healers and is a rabid frenzy of oil paint colored in the industrial blues, greys, reds, and silvers of an inner city’s social network internet cyberstructure. This complex arrangement of shapes immediately takes the form of a mass of huddled figures who are bent out of proportion into the twisted amalgamation of, with a quick glance around the room, which is Banisadr’s signature style. Moving clockwise around the gallery, you come upon the painting entitled “Red” which to me likens of fires burning deep inside a blast furnace, the likes of which you would see at a metal smelting plant. However the figures are still there in the foreground with a more aquatic feel this time, with deep sea teeth gnashing turquoise and pale green ellipses who fade into the background to the ‘trench’ which becomes an orange sky. While many people could interpret this one as being a nod to this year’s COVID epidemic, I see it as something much more striking. A look at what will become of our planets climate. An encroachment and slow death of our oceans. A reddening of the sky, with the heat from the sun beating down on the last cool places which will be familiar to us, until they are gone.

Moving forward about the gallery, we come upon a smaller multimedia work which was made with aquatint with photogravure, spitbite, drypoint, and burnishing on paper. None of which I have the faintest idea what process they entail. The picture is gritty, granular, and raw. Its use of black, white, and a few seemingly bioluminescent figures appearing out of the cloud are the few things that make this one stand out from the others. Next we have “Cannon Hidden in Roses” on paper, using the same media to make out the forms on the page. This one is much more colorful and takes hints from 1960’s graffiti/ newspaper works of the likes of contemporaries such as Jaune Smith and Yoko Ono.

Around to the right is “The Caravan” and one of my personal favorites of the installation. Its light background tinged with purple sings to the viewer, while the curvature of the few inflections on top, bring a sense of inner peace. The figures there are playful, and whimsical. Meanwhile the foreground is like an abstraction of a PT Barnum Circus, complete with three rings. While the rings don’t play a part in the actual painting, here all the trappings of a school of gypsy playwrights who travel for pleasure and money are present. Simply a delight.

Following are two more, named “Interior” and “Exterior,” and they are similar in nature and color to “Cannon Hidden in Roses” from before. “Treasure” follows and is as true to name as can be with seagulls swooping down to pick gold doubloons or pieces or bread without discretion from the hands of unwary seafaring travelers below. The green and gold gives this painting an air of murk and plunder from unscrupulous watery depths.

There are four more original works in the gallery (one slightly hidden) and a curated section which brings one of the four walls to life with a contrasting collection of artifacts from the Museum, including a Goya. See for yourself.