Category Archives: Economy

An Open Letter to Iranian President, Ahmadinejad

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Dear President,

You and I have had our differences, but I’d rather we deferred them and worked on other issues that we can collectively agree on without resorting to attacks. You cannot for instance ignore the horde of 15-29 year olds who crowd every neighborhood of our country without the means of earning a livelihood. The 2009 Green Revolution was, besides other things, an outcry of our country’s dire unemployment problem. I’d like to emphasize the urgency of this issue and offer some suggestions for efficient policies. Let me assure you that as long as the government shows that it is capable of taking care of its people, we will respect its authority. However, you can’t expect calm and compliance when our basic needs are unmet.

Chapter IV, Article 43 of our Constitution states the government is bound to ensure employment conditions and opportunities for everyone, with a view toward attaining full employment of the population. It was our government that prided itself with its natalist policy in the 1980s and now that the children of this policy have come of age they face a detrimental job market. According to figures reported by Birth Registration Organization (BRO) a total of 153 births in a day have been registered over the nine-month period in 2009, showing an increase of 4.3% compared to the same period in the last year. You reinforced this policy earlier in 2010, but offered no explanation for where the funds to pay for the new births would come from. Our economy is growing disproportionately to our population and with the bulk of our economy in your control, and majority of public sector investments earmarked for large capital and not labor-intensive heavy industries such as oil, petrochemicals, iron, steel and military hardware, you have failed to accommodate new job seekers.

In response to the economic hardships after the Revolution, Imam Khomeni introduced rationing and kept consumer prices for energy, basic foods, medicines and utilities well below market prices. Without reforms, the cost of these subsidies will only grow. In 2005, you won the presidency promising increased social services and aid to the poor. But your cash handouts only weakened the purchasing power of poor and middle class Iranians by increasing inflation. Contrary to advice by global economists, you decided to withdraw subsidies quickly instead of taking a more gradual approach to avoid a dramatic rise in inflation for families and industries. But subsidy reform while crucial is alone not sufficient to solve our chronic economic problems and unemployment.

To improve our nation’s overall health and decrease unemployment, we need to look at our peers and analyze how they were able to rise out of their economic stagnations. China is a perfect example: they have emerged as a success while maintaining a system of governance which is fairly similar to ours. After Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping’s “reform and opening up policy” was the single best policy that raised the country out of its economic miseries. He encouraged expansion of private business ownership and foreign investment. We can follow suit but avoid trading with the West by shifting our focus to the East. We could have a huge market in South and South East Asia but this should be further encouraged by providing benefits to the more labor-intensive private sectors like the textile and carpet industries. The proposed construction of a gas pipeline from Iran to India via Pakistan should be given undue precedence as a means to tap into existing offers.

Our country also has a rich cultural history and this is something we could use to our advantage by promoting tourism as an additional way to foster economic growth. I agree that tourism would open the country up to Western ideas, but which is more important: the well-being of your people, or a fake legitimacy since the people are unhappy with your policies? I would like to reiterate that young Iranians like myself are less concerned with who governs us than with the creation of a thriving environment for our basic needs to be met. You have been criticized by outsiders and your own people for being oppressive and I argue that opening up our borders to the world (particularly to our allies) is an answer to the criticism that you and your administration have been subjected to. We don’t have to have Western-style tourism; instead we have a lot to offer that the rest of the world and in particular our Western counterparts, can only learn about in books. China has realized that the international community is more important than it has acknowledged in the past.

The West has strongly criticized China’s control of the media just as it has criticized ours and having realized this they have launched a global media revolution. This is a sign that managing these international impressions is crucial for a state to emerge as a global power. Another way to open up borders is via educational exchange. We have world-class universities and can create student exchanges for the sciences. International students from our ally countries would bring in huge revenues. If there is something we can learn from the West is their international student market which has been a tremendous economic and cultural resource for them. This would boost the quality of our Iranian students as well, as they would be exposed to knowledge from other parts of the world where we have friends.

I conclude, therefore that it is in the best interest of the administration to make these economic reforms a priority because they give the young men of our country something constructive to do. Employment issues have had a devastating effect on our youth, many of whom resort to alcohol and drugs, dating, prostitution, and marriages that end in early divorce to occupy their unfulfilled time. I let you choose: open the borders for trade or face the wrath of your people.

Your Selfless Supporter

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