Yakko’s World and the incredible danger of fetishising borders

Recently, I stumbled across this clip from the children’s cartoon Animaniacs, which in a little ditty lists the countries of the world:

The ditty is not actually accurate for two reasons:

  1. The map and composition are based on information that was current in the early 1990s, which is well over two decades ago;
  2. For musical purposes, not all countries are named and some countries are incorrectly named

Both of these reasons, in other words, highlight the incredible arbitrariness of national borders. Some I noticed in just one listen:

  1. “French Guiana” is one of those former European new world colonies that are still in old world hands today
  2. “Russia” in the video is really the USSR, comprising many regions that today are independent countries
  3. “Germany now in one piece”
  4. “England” is only one constituent country of the United Kingdom
  5. “Two Yemens” (Yemen used to be two separate states)
  6. “Sumatra and Borneo” — the island of Sumatra is entirely Indonesian (although it once had an active and violent separatist movement), while Borneo is divided between Indonesia and Malaysia
  7. “Somalia” is arguably two or three countries, depending on whether you recognise governments like those of Somaliland
  8. “Sudan” is now two countries

You can easily conceive of a very different world map, one where:

  1. French Guiana is its own country
  2. Russia/the former USSR are partitioned or united in different configurations
  3. Germany remains partitioned
  4. The United Kingdom is splintered into its constituent countries (some people are still trying to make this happen)
  5. Yemen is splintered (this potentially could happen, given the unrest today)
  6. Sumatra and Borneo could be countries of their own, or divided in some different way between Malaysia and Indonesia (Sumatra is actually culturally and linguistically more similar to Peninsular Malaysia than Borneo is)
  7. Somalia is splintered, and Somaliland could be a sovereign state in its own right
  8. Sudan would still be unified

All of those outcomes are either incredibly realistic, being actively worked towards, or once actually were the case. What reason do we have for these not being the case, other than accidents of history? If the British and the Dutch hadn’t signed a few pieces of paper because Napoleon invaded the Netherlands, Singapore might be part of the former Dutch East Indies (i.e. Indonesia) today, while Sumatra could be a thriving former British colony instead of a region of Indonesia. Nothing innate about the people of Singapore or Sumatra dictated that their borders be where they are today — in a larger sense, Napoleon had more to do with how their borders are set and where these people may travel than any living Singaporean or Sumatran does today. A similar story applies to just about any patch of land you might pick in Southeast Asia.

Depending on which side of a line you were born on, or on what side of the midnight hour the clock read when you were born, you could be Sudanese or South Sudanese. You could be Dominican or Haitian. You could be Pakistani or Bangladeshi. And based on these totally arbitrary factors, where you can live, travel, work, and study will forever be defined. If Napoleon invaded your former coloniser two centuries ago, maybe you wound up British or Singaporean instead of Dutch or Indonesian, or vice-versa. I do not see the sense in this.

There are two sensible ripostes I can think of:

  1. Some arbitrariness is inherent to the workings of the world, and necessary if we are not to go insane
  2. Countries and their unique institutions and cultures are incredibly relevant to shaping who you are

I would articulate the first as similar to observing that in the US, if you drink at 11:59PM in the evening you can be committing a crime, and 2 minutes later, simply exercising the natural right of an adult to enjoy an alcoholic beverage. But while arbitrary cutoffs may be necessary, at least these arbitrary cutoffs which lawmakers set are based on some non-arbitrary study. Governments (one hopes) consider the relevant medical and social science research in deciding an arbitrary minimum drinking age, just as they consider traffic engineering research in deciding an arbitrary speed limit. So remind me, why is it that Napoleon’s invasion of the Netherlands means someone born in Sumatra can’t work in Singapore today without begging for permission? What social science study are we relying on here?

As to the second point, I think this is all well and good. But it is one thing to suggest that countries are relevant to policymaking and our real lives. Nothing inherent to this point demands an automatic ban on foreigners living and working in your country. Maybe it demands a special language test. Maybe it demands an immigration surtax that funds language classes for immigrants or subsidises job training for displaced natives. The point I am making is that you cannot rely on the relevance of the institution of countries to demand a fetishisation of their arbitrary borders. I probably have more in common with a New Yorker of Asian descent than I do with a Borneo longhouse-dweller, yet I am a “foreigner” to the first and a “fellow citizen” to the second. Yet I am allowed to “impose” myself on the Bornean’s community and not the New Yorker’s, because ostensibly I have more in common with the Bornean and pose a threat to the New Yorker.

None of this means we should discard the nation-state, treat it as irrelevant, or even refuse to consider nationality in policymaking. Even borders have some relevance: they define the boundaries of a certain legal jurisdiction, and I would hesitate to just tear that down.

But we cannot take borders for granted. If we find ourselves suddenly declaring someone shouldn’t count or matter because of this arbitrary line, we need to be absolutely sure why we believe this. We cannot grant borders all the due deference in the world. When borders depend on which tyrant invaded your country a century or more ago, that’s a strong reason to instead believe borders might not be worth the paper they’re drawn on. Considering how often our fetish of borders gets in the way of exploring new ideas about citizenship or adhering to our most-cherished civilisational beliefs, this is no trivial matter.

Poverty, International Aid and Immigration

One of the main justifications for supporting open borders is that it has the potential to alleviate poverty.  But opening borders is not the first thing that comes to mind when people think of poverty reduction measures.  Most people tend to think of international aid programs. Trouble is, international aid isn’t that effective.

For a quick primer, see this report published by the Center for Global Development. The main points include the following:

  • International aid has four main objectives: stimulation of economic growth, strengthening local institutions, immediate humanitarian relief, and economic stabilization after a shock.
  • The evidence accumulated from numerous studies is that there is basically no correlation between international aid and economic growth even though many countries receive over 10% of their gross national income in aid annually.
  • Donors are faced with a significant Principal-Agent problem, which results in a lot of aid ending up in the hands of corrupt officials and useless bureaucrats, or being wasted in some other way.
  • There is some evidence that aid is (slightly) more effective when given to countries with better governance and policies in place, but this does not always correlate with who needs aid the most.

Basically, international aid doesn’t work that well in the long run. Interestingly, this does not mean that we are losing the war on poverty. In fact, according to this article in the economist, the world met the millennium challenge goal of cutting poverty in half between 1990 and 2015 five years early.  So how did it happen?

In a word, China. We are all familiar with the story of China by now. After China adopted meaningful economic reforms in the 1970’s, their economy exploded and millions of people got jobs in new industries making goods that are exported across the world.  What we don’t always take into account is that this massive economic growth depends on a massive level of economic migration.  Chinese cities have over 250 million migrant workers.  Some estimates claim that another 250 million will move to the city by 2025.  China’s migrant population will soon be greater than the entire population of the US.

China has hundreds of millions of internal migrants despite the fact that the government does not allow its citizens to freely move around the country.  Chinese migrant workers live under conditions similar to illegal immigrants in this country.  Millions of migrant worker children are not even allowed to attend school even though China’s leaders know that their urban industries depend on migrant labor.  Migration has been vital to China’s economic growth, but there is massive bureaucratic resistance to granting these migrants basic rights because of the strain it would put on local welfare and education systems.  Sound familiar?  Still, hundreds of millions of rural Chinese have decided it is better for them to live on the margins of an industrialized economy than to risk starvation in a backward agricultural area.

Despite government attempts to prevent it, migration has been a fundamental part of how the world has cut poverty in half.  The explanation is pretty simple. Prior to industrialization, pretty much everyone lives in poverty.  Individuals in agricultural societies don’t produce very much, and they are fairly evenly distributed across the land. Individuals who specialize in a modern economy are very productive but they need to live in close proximity to other people. Thus industrialization goes hand in hand with massive rural-urban migration.

China isn’t the only country that has been transformed by internal migration. 30 percent of India’s population are migrants, as that countries citizens search for better conditions. In Brazil, the urban population went from 36% to 81% of the total in the second half on the 20th century.  And of course, the United States has experienced several periods of migration that shaped our nation’s history.

When we talk about poverty reduction, migration should be the first word that comes to mind.  Of course, the movements discussed here have been internal.  Internal migration is a bigger factor than international immigration in global poverty reduction because it is easier for people to move around within their own countries (despite restrictions, as in China).  A few countries have both the massive rural populations and dynamic urban production centers that make economy changing rural-urban migration possible.  But many areas of the world are being choked off either because their rural population has nowhere to go or their aging economy lacks an influx of new workers.

The benefit of open borders is that it allows the process of industrialization and poverty reduction to proceed without artificial barriers.  The China miracle could become a comprehensive global solution to poverty.


Cosmopolitanism and open borders: a follow-up

After I wrote my post on the apparent lack of interest in open borders among cosmopolitans, I received some comments offering some contrary evidence. While, as an advocate of open borders, I remain disappointed with the book I referenced in that post (though more generally as a student of cosmopolitanism I happily recommend The Cosmopolitanism Reader), I believe I was premature in claiming cosmopolitans have unduly ignored migration.

First, even if most of the mentions of migration and border controls in the book are cursory, some of the contributors have substantively commented on migration elsewhere. Brian Barry, one of the contributors to the part titled “Cosmopolitan Global Justice” that focused so much on global distributive justice, mostly ignored movement across borders in his essay. Yet he also edited a book in 1992 titled Free Movement: Ethical Issues in the Transnational Migration of People and of Money (which I have not read fully).

Simon Caney, another contributor, has also discussed migration separately. In a 2006 paper he admirably brought the sometimes abstract discussions of global justice into the practical realm of policy by comparing a dozen (ostensibly) cosmopolitan policies, one of which was open borders. He proceeds by defending the policy against the charge that open borders would not actually benefit the world’s poor:

Maybe the upshot will simply be that talented and able-bodied people will migrate, leaving the most vulnerable behind and unprotected. This is no doubt a risk but two points should be made in reply. First, recent evidence from the World Bank and elsewhere does indicate that migration aids the global poor. It is important to recognize here that migration generates two distinct kinds of beneficial effects. First, it improves the standard of living of the migrants and, second, migrants send remittances to their family members who remain in the home country and so the latter too can benefit from migration. So the beneficiaries include not simply those who leave (who are likely to be able bodied and skilled) but also those who are not able to leave to seek work. In its 2006 report entitled Global Economic Prospects: Economic Implications of Remittances and Migration, the World Bank found, for example, that the amount of money sent as remittances to developing countries was likely to be approximately $167 billion in 2005 and it has increased by 100% in five years […]. The report further adds that ‘remittances have been associated with declines in the poverty headcount ratio in several low-income countries—by 11 percentage points in Uganda, 6 in Bangladesh, and 5 in Ghana, for example. […]

Other cosmopolitan thinkers were also brought to my attention, including Phillip Cole, who has written two books on the ethics of immigration (or one and a half: the second was co-written with Christopher Heath Wellman, who argued for the right of states to restrict immigration. Phillip Cole has been discussed on this site previously here). I am not sure Cole considers himself a cosmopolitan, but he is certainly a fellow traveler, basing his arguments on the moral primacy of the individual and universalizing this primacy by applying it to every individual.

Likewise, Joseph Carens is an ethicist with whom I was already familiar (and who has been discussed on this blog previously), but I didn’t include him in the original post because I’ve never seen him adopt the cosmopolitan label. But focusing too much on labels can be unproductive. Carens has been writing about the ethics of migration for decades, with one classic essay, Migration and Morality: a Liberal Egalitarian Perspective, appearing in Barry’s book mentioned above. In this essay he stakes out the position, similar to that advanced by this site, that “Liberal egalitarianism entails a deep commitment to freedom of movement as both an important liberty in itself and a prerequisite for other freedoms. Thus the presumption is for free migration and anyone who would defend restrictions faces a heavy burden of proof.” Carens has continued his work in defending free migration to the present: Amazon tells us he has a book forthcoming on the subject in December.

Arash Abizadeh is a political philosopher at McGill University of a cosmopolitan bent who has defended open borders in a number of recent papers. In one especially novel paper (pdf), he defies the conventional wisdom that democratic principles and liberal egalitarian principles come to loggerheads on the issue of border control. He proposes that, because border control is coercive to individuals seeking to cross borders, democratic legitimacy requires that the migrants (those on the business end of coercion) must be given some democratic say in the matter.

According to the state sovereignty view–the dominant ideology of the contemporary interstate system–entry policy ought to be under the unilateral discretion of (the members of) the state itself, and whatever justification is required for a particular entry policy is simply owed to members: foreigners are owed no justification and so should have no control over a state’s entry policy. What I seek to demonstrate is that such a position is inconsistent with the democratic theory of political  legitimation domestically is thereby committed to rejecting the unilateral domestic right to control and close the state’s boundaries, whether boundaries in the civic sense (which regulate membership) or in the territorial sense (which regulate movement).

Obviously I cannot exhaustively cover all the cosmopolitan and cosmo-curious thinkers who have discussed the ethics of migration in this post. A brief dip in the literature has turned up more than I originally thought I would find based on my introductory text. I’d like to close with perhaps my most encouraging find. Gillian Brock, in her 2009 book Global Justice: a Cosmopolitan Account, devoted a whole chapter on immigration. An adapted excerpt of the chapter was published on openDemocracy. Brock is not opposed to increased migration per se, but she expresses skepticism that freer migration will advance global justice if unaccompanied by policies mitigating perceived adverse side effects of liberalized emigration from poor countries. Specifically, she contends brain drain effects on sending countries can outweigh the positive effects on host countries and the migrants themselves, especially in the case of health workers.

I plan to address Brock’s concern about the “brain drain” in another post, but for now I want to point to the attention her arguments received among other cosmopolitans. The journal Global Justice: Theory Practice Rhetoric (mercifully ungated) hosted a special issue in 2011 to discuss her book. Two of the response essays focused on Brock’s treatment of migration, criticizing her skepticism of freer migration policies. The journal editors, perhaps sensing the wide interest in the topic, then devoted their 2012 issue to migration and its relationship to global justice. Even when cosmopolitans oppose unrestricted movement or hedge their arguments against it, they offer a refreshing point of view. In a debate where so often advocates of open borders struggle to get our interlocutors to acknowledge that the rights and preferences of would-be migrants warrant our consideration at all, skeptical cosmopolitans on the contrary fear that we may have insufficiently considered the effects on all of the relevant affected people. The coverage of migration by cosmopolitan philosophers is more substantive than I thought, and it’s heartening to see that, if anything, interest in the subject has deepened in recent years.

Immigration-backed Bonds

Nathan Smith has proposed a scheme for a keyhole solution: DRITI, that has as its main features return deposits, surtaxes, and savings accounts. While I found it interesting, it looked a little complicated to me. In a similar vein, Anu Bradford suggests that a bond be posted by companies for the immigrants they hire. I liked that idea, too, but I share David Henderson’s reservations regarding the exact scheme.

Now, allow me to offer my own proposal. I am for real open borders. So it is only meant as a compromise that could work with most people being skeptical or even hostile to open borders. For want of a better name, let me call it an “immigration-backed bond” (unfortunately, “immigration bond”, which would be a better term, already refers to bonds that immigrants have to post to get out of detention).

The main points that I would like to change are these:

  • The above proposals rely on individual and private contracts. It would be preferable to exploit economies of scale and create a market with public information.
  • A product that needs to attract a lot of capital has to be reasonably simple. Even better if it conforms to some standard template.
  • There is often a complaint that proponents of open borders want the benefits for themselves, but risks are socialized. It would be nice if you could instead put your money where your mouth is.
  • Self-interest has been a reliable motivation for ages. So those who supply the capital should reap a profit commensurate with risks taken.
  • To increase political feasibility, I would also like to create a material interest on the part of the government.

The basic structure of an “immigration-backed bond” may look complicated, but only relies on rather standard features that have been around for a long time, e. g. for corporate and mortgage-backed bonds. It is a bond that has a certain maturity, e. g. in ten years, and is then paid back. In the meantime it pays a regular coupon. The coupon depends on a pool of immigrants and how they behave. It might pay back before maturity (in part or whole), i. e. there is a “callable” provision. And in extreme cases what you receive at maturity could be less than 100%. Of course, the coupon would have to be high enough to compensate you for the risks you take.

How does this relate to the immigrants?

For every, let’s say, $20,000 in bonds issued, there is a visa for one immigrant. The visa is “shall issue” and not “may issue”, i. e. the government can only refuse to issue it if there are some predefined reasons (e. g. no clean criminal record, affiliation with a terrorist organization). “Shall issue” is in line with a prima facie right to immigrate, whereas the current “may issue” is not. The bond insures risks from the immigrant, and the $20,000 serve as collateral if there are any problems that result in expenses to the government or third parties (e. g. fines, damages, cost of repatriation).

Unlike with current visas, the immigrants keep their visas as long as they pay up. So losing a job or changing employers would not be a problem per se. Or someone else might pay for them, e. g. a charity, family members or a spouse. If the immigrant does not incur any such costs, or less than some limit, they become permanent residents at maturity. If they default on payments or cross the limit, they can be sent back to the country they came from.

It still may not be clear how this would work on an operational level. So let me elaborate. To make it very concrete I suggest a rather specific implementation. However, I don’t think that the specifics are in any way optimal. They are only meant to show that there is no inherent problem.

The main part would be to set up a special legal entity (usually called a “Special Purpose Vehicle”) that obtains a certain amount of money from investors, let’s say, 500 million dollars for ten years, which would correspond to a pool of 25,000 immigrants. Half a billion dollars would be more than enough for a liquid market in the bond. In principle, the Special Purpose Vehicle could directly handle everything and have a dedicated staff for that purpose. However, that is not particularly likely because it is inefficient to start all over again for each new bond. Instead most operations would probably be outsourced to external parties who receive a fee from the Special Purpose Vehicle for their services.

As for the external parties involved I could imagine the following:

  • Investment banks set up the Special Purpose Vehicle and take care of bringing the bond to market.
  • A bank takes over the financial side of operations.
  • Rating agencies might supply a rating for the risks involved.
  • An accountancy firm supervises the different operations.
  • Probably a law firm takes care of handling charges from the government and re-couping them from the immigrants.
  • One or more human resource consulting firms originate the pool, i. e. select the immigrants (and probably also match them with job offers).
  • Some other party (e. g. a telephone operator) collects payments from the immigrants.
  • Insurance companies might also be involved, e. g. insuring extreme risks.

What is perhaps unclear is how some party (probably a human resource consulting firm) would originate the pool. Here’s how this could work:

The Special Purpose Vehicle comes with a definition for the characteristics of the immigrants. That’s because investors probably want to have an idea of what the risks are. The human resource consulting firm would then try to find people with the relevant profile in the usual way via ads or going through their databases (and probably also match them with respective job offers). Or it could be the other way around: the human resource consulting firm has a larger pool of potential immigrants, they “repackage” part of their larger pool and offer it to someone who wants to set up a Special Purpose Vehicle. An accountancy firm certifies they follow a defined protocol. To make the originator interested in delivering a good result, they could be asked to take on some of the risk themselves, e. g. with payments staggered until maturity, dependent on whether there are unexpected losses.

How would the definition be set for the pool? The main point would be to target a certain level of risk, and select immigrants accordingly. So any set of attributes that has predictive power, such as age, gender, education, etc. might be interesting as well as indicators for commitment (acquisition of relevant language skills, knowledge about the target country). The originator could also ask the immigrants to post some collateral themselves, or that someone vouches for them (e. g. their prospective employers, domestic citizens in the receiving country, immigrants with a good track record in some other pool, etc.). So parameters like degree of self-collateralization or percentage vouched for by reliable parties could also play a role.

What happens with the money?

Obviously, it would be stupid to leave it in a bank account at money market rates, so it should be invested in something. And here is where I would rely on the interest of politicians and the government: the money is invested in newly issued government bonds. And to make this even more attractive for the government, you could give them better than market conditions, e. g. no coupons or even negative coupons that are paid and not received by the Special Purpose Vehicle. Technically, you would perhaps want to keep the two things separate, so you have standard government bonds that can be sold in the market, plus a regular or lump payment to the government.

Up to this point, this looks like a money-losing operation. Holders of “immigration-backed bonds” would only have government bonds with lower or even negative coupons minus additional costs. That’s why the Special Purpose Vehicle has a claim on the immigrants for regular payments that cover all costs so far (market interest rates as an opportunity cost, expenses for origination and operation, extra payment to the government, a risk premium for investors).

It may be the business of the Special Purpose Vehicle to collect payments from the immigrants. However, it would probably outsource operations to some other party. Any company in the business of collecting money over a wide area would do. One idea would be to collect it via phone bills. Alternatively, contributions could be tacked onto tax payments as a surtax that is routed to the pool (minus some compensation to the government for supplying the infrastructure and costs for collecting the surtaxes). Since immigrants might die or leave the country before the ten years are over, there could also be a so-called “callable” provision, i. e. early payback of part of the principal, either by lot or pro rata. The government might also have to cede any extra payments after that point, so the underlying government bonds can be sold in the market. Or you could do without such a provision and investors would have to bear the risk of the respective defaults.

Could this work in the real world? Just a back-of-an-envelope derivation to see whether the dimensions are okay: If the pool were pretty risky, e. g. on a par with a junk bond with a rating of BB, you would want a premium of perhaps 5% per year to compensate for this. This is a truly risky pool, as over ten years you would expect charges and defaults of about $10,000 dollars per immigrant. You would also want a market rate for a riskless security over ten years. Now those are very low at the moment. A realistic long-term level would perhaps be something like 4%. Then there may be additional costs for origination and operation of 2% and a further 2% to get the government interested. This adds up to 13%. Now 13% of 20,000 dollars would translate to 2,600 dollars a year per immigrant or somewhat more than 200 dollars a month. My guess would be that this is more of an upper bound.

The government would get 10 million per year and half a billion in capital for ten years. The originator and operator (and their subcontractors) would obtain an annual $10 million together. Again this is only meant as a rough estimate and more of an upper bound to see whether something like this could work.

Would a typical government be interested? I think it would. For an extra 100.000 immigrants in one year, the government would have $40 million in extra money per year and an extra $2 billion in government bonds issued. For an extra 100,000 immigrants per year, you would have to do this for ten years in a row and then revolve. Now it is an extra $400 million per year and $20 billion in government bonds issued. Many governments in the Eurozone would have been glad to get their hands on such cheap refinancing. Of course, in that case the underlying government bonds would account for much of the risk premium.

With this rough calculation, my conclusion is that “immigrant-backed bonds” could be feasible and interesting for all parties involved. However, there are all kinds of loose ends and potential problems:

  • Unlike with mortgages that can be originated over an extended time frame and then repackaged, here many things have to happen within a short period of time, e. g. 25,000 applicants with a job offer right now. There could be some leakage with offers or applications being withdrawn at the last minute. However, one solution would be to have an excess of applicants and jobs, so there are always enough to fill the pool.
  • It could be tricky to define when and how much to pay to the government. As for fines and damages, this would be the same as what the immigrants have to pay directly. But how about expenses for court cases, police enforcement, etc.? What about if these charges materialize only after the bond has matured? And how about welfare payments? There could be some moral hazard problems here.
  • Is insurance limited to $20,000 per immigrant (or whatever it is, as the figure was purely arbitrary) or is there a real insurance via the pool where also extreme risks are insured (e. g. one of them perpetrating a major terrorist attack)? In the latter case: What if the Special Purpose Vehicle goes bankrupt? A typical solution would be to insure such extreme risks with a reinsurance company.
  • Asymmetric information and adverse selection: the immigrants who are selected could not immigrate in other ways, so there might be some hidden risks.
  • The originator could be corrupt. Supervision by an accountancy firm might not be sufficient to detect this. However, one remedy is to make them share in the risk via staggered payments that depend on results. The prospect of repeat business and protecting your reputation could be additional motivations for diligent origination.
  • “Asset-backed bonds”, after which this proposal is modelled, have fallen out of favor with investors and regulators in the wake of the financial crisis, but have made a modest comeback since then. So there might be a certain reluctance to participate in an offering, especially in the beginning.
  • It is easy to shoot down such a scheme with moralistic hyperbole: “You are treating immigrants like a commodity.” There is also a lot of potential for harrowing stories how immigrants are “exploited” or about “human trafficking.”
  • There might be perverse incentives for politicians to close down other venues because “immigration-backed bonds” are more lucrative. So there could be some crowding-out.
  • It might be hard to end such a scheme if you want to go for real open borders. On the upside, that would also apply if the government wanted to abolish it for more closed borders.

I am admittedly not an expert on structuring such products, so there might be even major improvements or else arguments why the whole concept would not work. That’s the reason I would like to offer this proposal for debate. However, if “immigration-backed bonds” came to pass as the best possible alternative under given circumstances, I would certainly be interested in investing my own money in them, just to show that I put my money where my mouth is – and to make a profit from a great opportunity to increase wealth.

[I would like to thank the Open Borders team for valuable input on a previous version of this post. I hope I now address most of the points they have raised. As always: all errors are mine. And for full disclosure, I would like to add that I work in the financial sector, but have no professional stake in what I suggest. And I am certainly not speaking on behalf of my employer.]

Weekly link roundup 7

Here’s our weekly installment of links from around the web (see here for all link roundups). As usual, linking does not imply endorsement.