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How 40 Years of Mullah-nomics Have Failed Iran

21 13 8

The Iranians who couldn’t attend the celebrations marking the Islamic Revolution’s 40th anniversary because they were waiting in line for a chance to buy meat for their families shouldn’t be surprised at their situation. The revolution’s guiding light, the Ayatollah Khomeini, famously said that “economics is for donkeys.”

I’m not sure whether he meant that any idiot can run an economy, or that people who are overly concerned with material prosperity are contemptible. Khomeini implied the latter when he said, early on in the revolution, “I cannot believe that the purpose of these sacrifices was to have less expensive melons.”

Khomeini was much more interested in Islamic jurisprudence and in hating the Shah than he was in how his future Islamic Republic would ensure a modicum of prosperity. He wavered between an economic conservatism based on Sharia law, and a sort of Islamic populism rooted in a visceral desire to help poor Muslims. But he evinced no understanding of how economics really work.

Today marks 40 years since the day the Shah’s regime came to an end and the Islamic Republic took its place, and the revolution still hasn’t delivered the cheap melons, or much else, for ordinary Iranians.

Turkey of an economy

A comparison of Iran’s economic performance done by Nadereh Chamlou for the Atlantic Council puts the situation into stark relief, belying all the parades, fiery speeches and boasting now under way in Tehran.

Chamlou compared Iran with Turkey, South........

© Haaretz