An Important Thing To Remember About the Regime in Iran

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on December 24, 2010

It’s not enough for the regime to violate human rights on a mass scale, support terrorism around the world, and generally isolate Iran from the rest of the international community by both its support for terrorism, and its desire for a nuclear arsenal. No; this regime likes to overachieve when it comes to being ridiculously incompetent, which helps explain this:

Nearly a week after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad launched a plan to overhaul a long-standing system of state subsidies, Iranians are reeling from drastic government-ordered price increases for staples such as fuel and bread amid signs of growing frustration and anger.

Among the first to feel economic pain from the politically sensitive price hikes, which began Sunday, have been truck drivers, taxi owners and bread sellers, and many truckers appear to have stopped working in protest. On the streets of the capital, in offices and on public transportation, expressions of alarm, worry and outrage are heard everywhere. In the past, price increases have led to unrest in Iran.

The government argues that the changes are necessary for Iran’s economy to grow. But parliament has said it opposes the way the overhaul is being implemented and complained that the government has not shared details of its elaborate economic plans. An influential lawmaker, Hamid Reza Katouzian, has called the price hikes “shocking.”

The government says it has fixed the new price rises to prevent runaway inflation. It has employed members of the paramilitary Basij militia to crack down on merchants who are overcharging, the commander of the organization said last week. But those most affected by the price hikes complain that they are losing money, because the government’s fixed prices do not allow them to completely account for the new costs in their products and services.

At the city’s Rah Ahan train station, a sandwich seller who gave his name only as Ali complained that after the price of traditional bread was raised from about 15 cents to 40 cents, he was losing money badly.

“I’m not allowed to increase prices, but the government can,” he said as commuters hurried through the grand hall of the 1920s train station. “We are all losing money. People are extremely upset.”

I would close this post by writing something along the lines of “well, at least it cannot get any worse in Iran.” But I will refrain from doing so, because I am sure that the government will find a way to prove me wrong.

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