In Iran, Gas Now Costs 38 cents per Liter

girls in esfahan
Girls in Shiraz, Iran. photo by Max Hartshorne

I remember a Friday night in Tehran, where young men drove their cars up and down the boulevards, and it felt like being in South Beach…that same exhilaration, whoooo hoooo, screaming and excitement of male energy.

I read in Sunday’s NY Times about how the government there has finally cut subsidies for fuel…so now instead of 10 cents a liter, it will cost .38 per liter.┬áThe government was worried about how the people would react, so they posted riot police at many of Tehran’s gas stations. The other tactic was to mail out $77 subsidy payments to every Iranian household. But in an odd twist, the government decreed that nobody could withdraw their $77 until now.
Of course, this lead to some grumbling and citizens who refused to wait. One man told the times he cashed his right away, since he was afraid they could cancel the plan before he got his money.
In my time in Iran in 2008, I got the sense of a rumbling, discontented younger class of people who had no use for the decrees of the mullahs and basically had written off voting as useless. They didn’t see any point.
The story of these subsidies, which cost the government an astronomical $110 billion per year, is a great example of how an oppressive regime fights to keep its people from revolting. You see it in other places too, like Saudi Arabia, where the one family of Sauds rules with an iron fist, but allows the super strict islam of Wahabism to prevail. It’s part of a deal they made with the ultra religious to keep them in power.