Catch up with a friend or feed an army?

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For $20 you can either buy 20 packs of bread (160 loaves) or you can talk on the phone for one hour.

This sobering comparison is being made by “Allo Fail” the telecom activist group that is demanding a lowering of Lebanon’s insanely expensive cell phone rates, which at up to $0.36 per minute for a local call, are among the world’s highest.

Here is the graphic from their Facebook page:

Lebanon’s per-minute rates lead the entire Middle East, according to this chart by Executive magazine, also published on the AlloFail page: 

AlloFail is asking consumers to sign a petition calling for cheaper rates. Astonishingly, only 2,000 people have signed out of nearly 3.7 million cell subscribers in the country. You can sign the petition here.

With relatively few taxes, the Lebanese government relies on telecom tariffs, which bring in some $2 billion per year, to help fund the state. But this type of taxation hurts the poor hardest and also discourages companies from doing business here, which means less jobs.

On the other hand, the cost of an hour of telecom will buy you enough bread (20 packets) to make 160 sandwiches.

Daily Star

No wonder war and sandwich-making are some of the most successful businesses in Lebanon.

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