The Sopris Sun is conducting a series of interviews with folks you may not have seen in the paper before – a sort of introduction to your neighbors. This week we caught up with Werner Neff, 72, a Swiss-born author and transplant to Carbondale, whose thoughts are given here with input from his wife, Sylvia, 70, who also is from Switzerland.
Q: How did you end up in Carbondale?
A: I came to this area exactly 10 years ago, where Sylvia came to this country over 40 years ago. [Sylvia: I lived in New York most of that time, and then I came here 7 years ago]. I am retired, and now spending my time writing books on the American economy. I came here because of my late wife, who was from Carbondale. I met her while in Aspen at the Aspen Music Festival and School … auditing the conducting class given to me as a sabbatical by my company. I play piano.
Q: What did you do for work before coming here?
A: I studied political economics and business administration, and worked for 25 years in a large Swiss bank in the Swiss mortgage and small business loan department. I moved here from Switzerland directly to Carbondale after my retirement. Since my arrival I have been studying and writing about the American economy and American politics. [Ed. Note: Neff has three books published and available online]. A political economist, I am interested and concerned about the fundamental changes in American democracy.
Q: Tell us a bit about your family background.
A: My family and many, many ancestors came from Switzerland … very simple. I have a brother and a sister, and you would say we were middle class. I attended public schools all the way through university.
Q: Is there a question you get from others that you find tiresome?
A: People often ask me, what do you like better, to live here in America, the Roaring Fork Valley or in Switzerland. And I usually say, “Today, I love it here best. But I am enjoying every situation, being home in Switzerland and being in the United States, especially in Colorado.”
Q: How did you end up writing about American economics and politics?
A: My late wife was so ill that I had to take over working on taxes, health insurance, pension funds, social security and other things. I found it difficult, compared to solutions we had in Switzerland, so I was forced to study and understand the American social economics. And there is now my new book, “Restore Trust — Economic Solutions to Current Social and Political Issues in the U.S.”
Q: And what are your main concerns as expressed in your book?
A:. I am concerned about the failing of the American Democracy. I am talking about a distorted democracy and I write about that poverty is a structural problem created by economic thinking errors and institutional poverty traps.
Q: If people recognize you on the street, where do they remember you from?
A: I hope from my book, and I have many friends from piano playing … classical music.
Q: How do you spend your free time?
A: I have a couple of main activities. I have founded here in Carbondale a group of piano players, about 10 or 12 friends, who come together once every month at one home or another to play piano. The second activity I love, is being a DJ for KDNK Classical every Sunday morning from 8 -10 a.m.
Q: Any advice for our readers?
A: Most important for Americans now is to vote, and take responsibility for their civil rights. I also encourage people to enroll in a pension plan and health insurance.