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Monday, June 22, 2009

It's the economy, stupid

David Frum argues that the current unrest in Iran is being caused by displeasure over the economy.
Iran's central bank reports an inflation rate of 25%. The unemployment rate -- already 10.5% when Mahmoud Ahmedinejad came to power -- has reached 17%.

Endowed with vast resources of oil and gas, Iran ought to be a wealthy country. Yet, adjusted for inflation, the income of the average Iranian today is no higher than it was in 1975. Under the shah, the average Iranian was significantly richer than the average South Korean. Today, the average South Korean is three times richer.

Iran's top three exports other than oil and gas? Pistachio nuts, saffron and carpets. Iran imports 40% of its gasoline, because its own dilapidated refineries cannot keep pace with demand.

Almost three-quarters of the economy is owned by the state or by religious foundations. That creates ample opportunities for Iran's notorious corruption. Religious leaders and their families have helped themselves to farmlands that once belonged to the shah and other leaders of the previous regime. They take kickbacks on arms sales and steal oil money. Ayatalloh Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has become the country's richest -- and most despised --man.
Sorry, but I don't believe that people put themselves in the line of fire to die because someone else is making more money than they are.

And while Frum cites high instances of heroin use and AIDS, I don't have the impression that the people leading this revolution are heroin users or AIDS patients.

No, it's not the economy. It's the repression that influences a lot more of day-to-day life than how much spending money people have.


At 9:34 PM, Blogger Andre (Canada) said...

Something has happened to David Frum. He used to be a great and sensitive writer.
Lately, he has been consistently off the mark and he is quickly becoming no more than a second-rate blogger.
Too bad!

At 9:46 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Its not the economy. Its the absence of freedom that is leading people to defy the regime and take to the streets. Iran has a mismanaged economy and Third World kleptocracy but that's not the real reason people dislike the regime. The real reason is the regime for ideological reasons, prevents the kind of healthy and normal change that should be a natural part of life in a country. And the point David Frum misses is Iran is far from being a healthy and normal country. Its a sick and dying one and this spasm as it were, is its last attempt to save itself.

At 12:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

it is partially the ecomomy, which has been stifled thanks to an islamic regime that stifles any sort of capitalism.

saudi arabia has the same sort of restrictions on its people...yet the ruling party has been smart...allow for some capitalism

a full belly keeps people happy, despite the lack of freedoms they may have.

At 7:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If that's true, look for that to happen in the USA as soon as the poisonous fruits of the CiperInChief's ecconomic policies have fully ripened.

At 8:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't see any contradiction. The lack of freedom also causes the bad economy and people are probably aware of the link.


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