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Iranian Voices: The Economic Overhaul, Person by Person

08 Jan 2011 03:38Comments

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Iranians still have mixed reactions to the controversial subsidy elimination plan, nearly two weeks after it was officially started by the administration of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Many Iranians have been taking steps to minimize their expenses and there is widespread concern over developments still to come in the economic overhaul. However, in contrast to what recently occurred in Bolivia in response to similar subsidy cuts, there has so far been no united protest against the rising prices.

There are some who believe that Iranians do not yet fully understand what the plan will entail and that their true reaction can be gauged only after they receive their water, gas, and electricity bills in two months.

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"Heroin -- two dollars. Meth -- one dollar. Meat -- 21-and-a-half dollars. Tomatoes -- three-and-a-half dollars. Which sounds more economical?"

--Student, 24

***

"We need to start thinking about procuring a hump!"

--Courtesy of "You Call This a Country" blog

* Wikipedia: A camel is an even-toed ungulate within the genus Camelus, bearing distinctive fatty deposits, known as humps, on its back.

***

"Who wants to volunteer to go to Damavand and fetch firewood for the winter?"

--Anonymous comment on Persian-language website

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"The velvet elimination of the subsidies in Iran was a historical lesson for the Greens: This is how you revolutionize things and carry out velvety acts."

--Political activist, 24

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"The person who deposited money into your account was not Santa, it was Ahmadinejad."

--Text message circulating around Iran

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"The leader recently said the subsidy compensation is the establishment's gift to the people. This translates: When something is a gift, you have no right to make demands. Any day now, they will say they won't be giving out gifts anymore."

--Dissident, 22

* On December 22, Ayatollah Ali Khameini, in response to a decree request regarding the Islamic tax (khoms -- the one-fifth of a Muslim's annual income and possessions that must be paid to the clergy) on the subsidy compensation said the cash handouts were a gift from the Islamic Republic's establishment to the people of Iran.

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"Make up your mind already and decide where this money is coming from. Is it the people's right? The Hidden Imam's money? Or a gift from the Islamic Republic establishment?"

--Journalist, 24

* Figures in the regime have been describing the subsidy compensation differently. Ahmadinejad described the handouts as the Hidden Imam's money, the Supreme Leader described it as a gift, and other officials have referred to the handouts as the people's right.

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"They are eventually going to print out some papers that say, 'Your share of the oil money.' They will say condescendingly that they are giving it to us, that if anyone wants to buy [the shares], you are free to sell. And regarding the interest: You can put the interest on your tab."

--Retired history teacher

* Mehr News Agency reported on December 30 that the economy minister revealed plans to distribute the subsidy compensation in the form of shares. The Ahmadinejad administration previously tendered "justice" shares, for which the government has announced it will no longer be distributing interest.

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"First cash handouts will be replaced with shares, then shares will be replaced with coupons, after coupons it will be back to the barter system, after that we will gradually go back to the Iron Age and then the Stone Age.... It won't be long before we transform into pious cavemen and then the grounds will be prepared for the coming of the savior who will take us to heaven where we can party."

--Literature professor

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"Mark my words, they will stop talking about subsidy shares in a few months and will tell us to deposit money into the government's account because we are living in the most developed and liberal country."

--Cab driver

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"I bought ten sangak [large flatbreads] and people gave me a look like I'm cruising around in a Prado."

--Courtesy of "You Call This a Country" blog

Copyright © 2011 Tehran Bureau

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