By Pooya Stone
In Iran, the gap between economic classes is widening every day. A few citizens with close ties with the government are becoming richer as the rest of the society is rapidly moving below the poverty and misery lines. Due to the government’s economic failures and systematic corruption, poverty and high prices continue to grow.
In this regard, Dr. Mohammad Reza Mahboub-Far, a social pathologist, raised the alarm about the people’s dire livelihood conditions, saying, “In May 2019, the poverty line was announced at 8 million tomans [$506]. Regrettably, today, the poverty line for a family of four has approached nearly 9 million tomans [$539],” ROKNA quoted Mahboub-Far as saying on May 8.
According to Iranian media outlets, several people benefit a luxury life and possess millions of dollars in their accounts while more than 60 percent of the social struggle hard to merely make ends meet. Unemployed workers, street-sellers, retirees, garbage-collectors, and many other impoverished people compose this part of Iran’s population. These poor citizens generally reside in slums of major cities, where they suffer from a shortage of basic supplies and urban services.
In such circumstances, inflation and high prices push slum-dwellers into more misery and crises while their purchase power dwindles day after day. In this respect, they only wish and struggle for not being poorer. In many cases, they are coerced to sell their body organs to clear their debts.
Furthermore, the coronavirus has doubled the problems of the low and middle-income segments of Iran’s society. Many Iranian breadwinners cannot provide proper food for their families and their food baskets are getting smaller. Regrettably, poverty and the government’s negligence about the livelihood conditions of these people have forced many parents to send their children to work instead of school.
Iranians witness shocking social phenomena like child labor, organ sale, unemployment, dropout students, and searching garbage containers for food while the ayatollahs’ spend billions of dollars on either non-essential items or their allies.
For instance, in an interview on May 21, the former head of the security and foreign commission of the Parliament (Majlis) Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh announced the Iranian government has granted about $20-30 billion to Syria’s dictatorship. “When I went to Syria, some complained that I had caused expenses, but I will say this again: We may have given $20-30 billion to Syria. The money of these people was spent there,” Falahatpisheh said.
On May 26, Titreemroz news agency highlighted the economic gap between different classes of Iran’s society in a piece titled, “Classes Distance in Iran, from Billionaires to [Those Who Receive] Thousands [of Tomans].”
“Several speak about billions [of tomans] and their home is worth several billions. Their car is worth several billions [of tomans]. They go foreign trips and own wide villas. We have no idea how they obtained this wealth. It’s hard for employees like us to imagine purchasing a $1.7-million house. Sometimes, the value of these people’s homes is equivalent to the total capital of several families,” Titreemroz wrote.
This media next pointed to the middle-classes’ concerns about slipping to impoverished segments of the society. These citizens always check the price of gold and forex because of their livelihoods and even their fate depend on these changes. At the end of every month, they have to calculate their remained debts and forgo part of their needs.
However, there are poorer people that Titreemroz did not write about. “However, some people in this country speak over cents alone. It is hard to speak and write about these people. But there is no solution. We have to talk and write about them so that maybe someone pays attention to their living conditions. They live at the end of the poverty line and only think about their daily bread. Feeding their children is their only wish.
“These people are workers who do not receive enough salary. They have unpaid arrears that go back several months. They are either renters or residents in small houses in the poorest parts of cities. To earn a few cents, they must leave their home before dawn and return after the midnight. They may not eat meat or chicken for months. Their children do not even find rice in their food basket for days. They do not travel and have no vacations. Their children do not know what a sea is. Their property is one home and nothing else,” Titreemroz explained.
Regrettably, these events are taking place in Iran while government-linked individuals and entities line their pockets with national resources and squander them on costly foreign policies like funding their extremist proxies, launching satellites, enhancing their nuclear bomb-making projects, or threatening other nations.
Simultaneously, Iranian authorities sent five shiploads of gasoline to their ally in Venezuela while their own country bears massive budget deficits. Moreover, the government suddenly raised prices of gasoline, bread, and other essential goods to compensate for their deficits. In November, hikes in gasoline prices faced nationwide protests, which the ayatollahs responded to with live ammunition and by killing more than 1,500 protesters. Now, they send gasoline to Venezuela.
However, as the Iranian people frequently showed their ire against the ayatollahs’ mismanagement, corruption, and nepotism, observers predict more social protests against the ruling system in the upcoming months.