It's the little things that matter (from LAT piece):
Amid soaring prices, sweltering temperatures and escalating international tensions, a Ramadan of discontent is unfolding in the Islamic Republic.
Protests have been brief and contained, nothing like the mass demonstrations that followed the disputed presidential election in 2009. But they are still noteworthy in a nation where the government endeavors to project an image of contentment and defiance to the outside world.
Fast-rising prices, probably fueled in part by new international sanctions tied to Iran'scontroversial nuclear program, have tested the patience of people facing an eroding quality of life. Complaints are muttered at bus stops and cafes. The prices of figs and dates, two items often consumed once the dawn-to-dusk fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan has ended, have risen at least 20% in just a few days, said a fruit hawker in north Tehran.
Perhaps no issue has been so contentious as the cost of chicken, long a relatively inexpensive staple popular during Ramadan. In the last two months, prices have more than doubled, outraging many consumers.
Then we get the word from USA Today (HT to Craid Nordin) that the gov is doing its best to encourage women to start having babies again. Reason cited is rapid demographic aging, but more upstream, the point is that Iran is suffering a stunning birth dearth. Women simply don't want to have babies in Iran.
What that says is that Iranians are losing their faith in a better future - in droves. Birth dearths of this sort represent a populace in depression, because having babies is ultimately an act of supreme optimism, which is in very short supply in Iran.
I lived a summer in the USSR in 1985, and I remember being so depressed by the Russians I met and hung around with that I became a classic crying drunk. I would drink deep into the night with these people and they were always so sad about their past, their present and their future that, upon getting back to my own place, I would typically burst out crying. I could only take in so much depression in one night that I'd figuratively "throw it up" like so much excess alcohol.
When I got back to the States, I had one idea firmly fixed in my head: that place is totally screwed and is going down. Didn't know when or how. Just knew it had zero future.
Iran seems very similar.