THINK TANK ROUND-UP: FIRST THOUGHTS OF THE NEW YEAR.

It's the first TTR of the new year, and we're back with a look at internal migration in the United States, the role of state budgets in the recession, and the continuing conflict in Gaza. Here's your round-up:

  • Rubber and glue. It doesn't get any better than wrangling emotions into a pie chart, as the Pew Research Center has done in its December report, "American Mobility: Movers, Stayers, Places and Reasons." The idea of home, or "the place in your heart you consider to be home," as Pew puts it, changes the more you move -- it may be where you grew up, where you've lived the longest, or where you live now. Four in ten adults don't claim their current town to be their home. If you are from the West Coast and female, you probably have many concepts of home -- Pew finds the West to be the most transient region (the Midwest is the least), and women to be 5 percent more likely to have moved than men. Race and ethnicity have no effect on one's propensity to move or stay. Of course, economics does: Between 2007 and 2008, Americans moved less than they have since the government began tracking this trend in the 1940s. Pew also offers a list of "Magnet States" and "Sticky States," those that draw people from elsewhere, and those that keep their native sons. Turns out that D.C. is the least sticky state, and New York is the least magnetic. Nevada is the most magnetic, with almost 90 percent of its residents from elsewhere, and Texas is the stickiest -- three quarters of adults were born there and will never, ever leave.-- CP
  • States of Play. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has recently updated its report on the condition of state budgets during the recession -- now 44 states are predicting shortfalls. States are often hit hard as revenues decrease during economic crisis. State governments end up exacerbating the situation with cuts to public employment and social services, as well as with tax increases, even as they are unable to deficit spend or obtain bond credit for infrastructure projects. The stimulus legislation being crafted on the Hill will undoubtedly include several hundred billion dollars in aid to states, providing the counter-cyclical spending the states are unable to fund themselves. But how much is needed, and how does the states' need compare to the last recession ? Here is a helpful graphic from CBPP:

    budgetshortfalls.jpg

    The report also notes the importance of getting the stimulus out early. The earlier states can stop taking austerity measures that reinforce recession conditions, the shorter and less painful the recession will be. -- TF

  • De-escalation. The International Crisis Group delivers its assessment of the conflict in Gaza:

    As each day goes by, Israel hopes to further degrade Hamas’s military capacity and reduce the rocket risk; Hamas banks on boosting its domestic and regional prestige. Only urgent international action by parties viewed as credible and trustworthy by both sides can end this before the human and political toll escalates or before Israel’s land incursion – which was launched as this briefing went to press – turns into a venture of uncertain scope, undetermined consequence and all-too-familiar human cost.

    The report observes that while destroying Hamas' operational capabilities within Gaza is not an impossible mission for Israeli forces, given the group's lack of resupply ability, the end state of the ground war leaves much to be desired: A full-scale, long-term military occupation of Gaza would be untenable, and the moderate Palestinian Authority is unlikely to be returned to full control of the area. Rather, the vestiges of Hamas will continue to be the most popular local political movement. Even a "crushing military victory ultimately might not be that much, or that lasting, of a political win." The current need is for effective third-party negotiators to take steps toward a ceasefire that would include an end to Hamas' rocket fire and Israel's economic blockade, with emphasis on Palestinian reconciliation and involvement of regional actors like Egypt and Turkey to monitor the ceasefire and crackdown on arms smuggling.

    Hamas, ICG observes, is a movement that draws strength from marytrdom. It won't be coerced into changing its policies. Rather, by allowing Hamas political control at border crossings and in Gaza, and withdrawing the economic blockade in exchange for an end to rocket fire, a ceasefire can be achieved and movement towards Palestinian reconciliation -- a key to a durable peace -- can begin. Ultimately, the report concludes, "this might mean a 'victory' for Hamas, but that is the inevitable cost for a wrongheaded embargo, and by helping end rocket fire and producing a more stable border regime, it would just as importantly be a victory for Israel – and, crucially, both peoples – as well." -- TF

-- TAP Staff

Previous Round-Ups
12/23/08
12/16/08

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