America’s economic woes are Reaganistic malfeasances.
But blame Barack Obama, too.
That’s what Bernie Corrigan, Friendly Area Neighbors Association Co-Chair, insists. The problem, he proclaims, took root in the 1980s.
“The economics of the time, they were insane – I mean just completely insane! Give it all to the rich – oh, good, but what’s everybody else going to do when things start falling apart? Well, that’s, you know, bloody capitalism for the poor, and socialism for the rich. It’s beyond belief. [Laughs]”
The Nebraska-born Friendly resident of 35 years is a jack of all trades – he’s taught Psychology at the University of Oregon, spearheaded numerous neighborhood improvement projects with his own two hands, worked with 2002 Nobel Prize-winning economist Danny Kahneman, and now runs a consulting and custom software development business, Corrigan and Associates, from home.
Corrigan speaks in a wise, matter-of-fact tone, prepared to offer guidance to those in need. Strong in personality, he is considerate, joyful and eternally selfless.
“It’s kind of funny, I was thinking about not staying on the [Area Neighbors] Board, or just dropping down from Co-Chair, and half the Board threatened to resign if I didn’t remain as Co-Chair, and I thought that was funnier than Hell. It’s very difficult to get people to be on Boards such as ours, so what we do is we find projects that people want to do, and we usually make them in charge of the projects they want to do, and we support them any way that we can. And we’ve got – and this has worked very well. We’ve got an awful lot of things done.”
But his views are set in stone.
“The United States is the host, and capitalism has now stripped us of 20 million jobs … the average income of the middle class has been going down steadily since Ronald Reagan was in office, except for a little blip during the Clinton years, and we just have terrible problems with it. And as you can see, we’re very concerned here in the neighborhood, looking at the number of foreclosures going down and people being evicted from their homes, who have nowhere to go, as to how long it might be before city parks are turned into homeless camps. You know, Obama’s turned out to be a gutless leader, and he’s afraid to fight about anything – he gives away the farm in negotiations before they even start negotiating … and no wonder they lost the election. [A hearty, amused, ironic laugh]”
His house mates are an incredibly lovable twelve-and-a-half-year-old Dobie-Lab-and-Border-Collie mix named D.V., and more than four neighborhood cats he cares for. D.V. lives the life of a first-born son, showered with Corrigan’s love and attention. The cats scatter like shards of shattered glass when strangers come to call, but they have grown very fond of him.
“There’s a cat over here by your bike, the black-and-white one, the smartest cat I’ve ever had. He was a feral, and he worked his way into the house and convinced D.V. he ought to live there. He’s a nearly perfect cat – he learned how to use a litter box right away.”
Corrigan’s core value is community involvement. His work with the Neighbors Association is all the evidence needed.
“We are citizens of our community, and we have to take responsibility in making it livable and keeping it livable, and we have lost this ethic to some extent here in the United States. I grew up in a small town in Nebraska, and there everybody kinda looked out for everybody else, and we have a neighborhood here where this is true. And I’ve helped build it and make it that way.”
Corrigan sees more troubled sailing ahead.
“The problem … is that students are getting out of college, even state colleges, with overwhelming amounts of debt, and I find this terribly frightening for the future of our society. When I finished my work at the PhD level, I didn’t owe a nickel to anyone, and I owned this house! And I owned a boat, and I owned a pickup and a car – and I have a loan out on the car, but everything else I own free and clear. And I did that with money I made as a Graduate Assistant, as a Research Assistant, and as a Consultant … today, the cost of tuition is so high that that’s virtually impossible, and I think that this is a tragedy in our society. Ronald Reagan and his followers designed this idea, and they have unfortunately managed to put it into effect. Right now we’re at the tail end of Reaganomics, we’re in the midst of Cancer Capitalism, and I fear for your generation, and that of my son and my grandson; it really worries me.”