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In the Name of God بسم الله
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Photi

This One Is For Jackson

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More of the article at the link:

Friday, July 1, 2011

Galileo's Curse

by Amir Taheri

To deny facts of the past is more difficult than making outlandish claims in the present. The western press has as long as I can remember classified the Iranian economy as in a "destructive downhill spiral". Statements of deep recession, stagnation and utter self-implosion have also been written to describe this economy of 70 plus million. Much coverage and reference was devoted in the last year to bleak reports from the IMF and the WTO on Iran's economy. (Un)strangely enough, when two weeks ago a delegation from the IMF visited Iran and after reviewing the books retracted its prior weak assessment of Iran's economy, there was little to no coverage. The IMF did not just adjust its assessment of Iran's 2009-2010 economy, it flat out praised Iran's current path and future potential. Having originally claimed that Iran's economy had near 1% growth in 2009 they readjusted it to 3.5% growth in hindsight. This notwithstanding that oil prices last year were down from the year before. They further went to say that, "The mission commended the authorities for the early success in the implementation of their ambitious subsidy reform program." Inflation was also brought down from 25.4% to 12.4% even though prices had increased at time as high as 700%.

I myself have now officially lived in Iran for 6 months. I don't see a country that is self-imploding, or in recession or any of the other terms that are used by most of the major papers. I even studied business and economics, so I should be able to see some of the signs of an economy in bad shape. What I do see for my own eyes are people living, spending money more than I have ever seen in my life in the West, and a society that is more capitalistic than many western countries. Although gas is between $1.60-$2.80 a gallon a far cry from just recent memory when it was 40 cents a gallon, the streets are clogged. In my city there is a popular street where the young come to cruise for dates. They do this Iranian style, by driving their gas-guzzlers up and down the street until finding a suitable match, sometimes hours. With gas prices almost 300% higher, surprisingly you see no less traffic on this street. I see average earning families putting their kids in private and expansive schools prior to even reaching high-school or college when costs really add up. I see an incredible number of foreign cars on the streets that cost a pricy 100% extra due to import taxes. And no these are not crony government officials or drug dealers driving these high-end cars. They are mostly business people who run restaurants, shops, and even hair salons. I see with my own eyes, construction everywhere. No section of any city I have visited has been immune to this expansion. Large public works like metros, highways, and bridges compete with privately funded and even bigger and higher hotels, apartments, and shopping malls. In September Shiraz will get the largest mall in the world according to number of shops; 2500! Tabriz is expanding with private money in all directions and is set to start construction on the largest hotel complex with story reach of 66 floors. Mashhad with an influx of over 20 million pilgrims each year (more than Mecca) has more ongoing hotel, mall, and public works projects than I have time to list. The capital Tehran has recently opened the world's largest revolving restaurant in its Milad tower. A meal for one person will set you back $160. The restaurant itself pays a whopping $300,000 monthly rent.

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sure, it was passed along by someone else elsewhere. the comments seem particularly well-informed for both sides in the discussion.

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I don't believe a word of what Amir Taheri writes. Period.

Even if I agree with what he has written here, I will have my suspicions about his motives and intentions. He's been so anti-IRI for so many years that he's lost all credibility, especially after that last piece in a Canadian newspaper that alleged (falsely) that Jews had to wear distinctive clothes in Iran.

This just seems a small step to rehabilitate himself.

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Although it's nice that for once, Amir Taheri is saying something positive (?) about Iran, are the things he is saying truly reflective of a mo'min people?

Yes, it is good that the people have enough income to afford to spend it, but is it good that they use this income to cruise for "dates"? BTW, in fact, what he is referring to is not at all "dates." It is a cultural phenomenon that only exists in Iran. Boys gather with their friends in a car and circle a crowded street. Simultaneously, girls gather with their friends in a car and circle the same crowded street. The two parties shout at each other from their respective cars. My grandfather calls it "tavaf" (tawaf).

But I digress... this is trying to portray Iranians as a self-indulgent, materialistic people and that capitalism has effectively undermined every fiber of Islamic culture that remains in the society.

So what is good on the surface may actually be even more venomous than the "Iran's economy is collapsing" narrative. At least with the latter, it is acknowledged that there is some resistance taking place in the economic arena.

In any case, thanks for the article brother Photi.

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In the first place, this article says nothing whatever about the economy of Iran. You could find similar high-priced stuff in New York, recession or no. How much rent a restaurant pays is not really relevant to the macroeconomic state of a country. In the second, Western economics don't really portray Iran as being a dump economically. The op-ed columns might but I tend to avoid those since the authors are usually ignorant of anything but using fancy words. In the view of Western economists it is a middle-income country, fairly dependent on petrol for government services but not nearly as much as the Gulf States. It isn't growing as rapidly as a lot of other countries in Asia (Malaysia, Turkey,Thailand, etc) largely due to sanctions. Still, it is moving along and certainly is no Zimbabwe. Don't pay attention to the op-eds, nobody in power or knowledgeable does.

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Don't pay attention to the op-eds, nobody in power or knowledgeable does.

'Pay no attention ma'am to the men holding the guns, they have no function. Just walk right on by.'

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