David L. Kopelman
SSA History Archives
|David Kopelman played a prominent role in the early administration of the Medicare program.|
HISTORICAL INTERVIEW WITH DAVID L. KOPELMAN
October 25, 1975
Interviewed by O.R. Garcia
Question: Mr. Kopelman, you've been with Social Security how long now?
Mr. Kopelman: It's now let's see, we just finished the 34th year in September. So, I'm into my 35th year.
Question: So that means you began about when?
Mr. Kopelman: I began September of 1939. September 29, 1939, to be exact, is when I reported in Washington.
Question: Oh, in Washington.
Mr. Kopelman: Yes. At that time the headquarters for SSA were in Washington. They had the Candler Building here in Baltimore, which housed what is now called BDP, the Bureau of Data Processing. Then it was called the Accounting Operations Division (A.O.D.). Of course, then they used primarily clerical activity and electrical accounting machines. They didn't have any electronic data processing. Electronic data processing hadn't even been invented. But that was the only component of SSA which was in Baltimore, the data processing activity. All the other central office activity was in Washington.
Question: Well, could you give us, before you get into any details, sort of a kind of a bird's-eye view of your career in SSA, and sort of fix it?
Mr. Kopelman: I came with SSA, as I said, on September 29, 1939, as what was called then, a Field Assistant in the Bronx Field Office. The Field Assistant position was what we now call the field representative position in the district office. In 1939, they were classified at the magnificent grade of a GS-3. But, lest that gives you some mistaken conception of the responsibilities, I should add that quite a few managers worked as grade 5's. We had seven classes of managers (was it?) and the lowest class manager was a grade 5. That's managers of--field offices they were then called--they were not called district offices--field offices of the Social Security Administration where the field work of SSA was performed. And they had some acting managers as grade 4. Anyhow, I came with SSA as a field assistant. I took a cut in salary from the job I then held in private industry to take the job, for a couple of reasons. A civil service job, and particularly one with the Federal Government, was regarded as the finest kind of job--it offered stability of employment and opportunities for advancement based on merit rather than on the nepotism which prevailed in small business and it meant an escape from the dog-eat-dog ethic which prevailed in business, especially small business. You could function in an ethical as well as legal way working for government and the Social Security Board was working for social justice!
Question: If possible, just your career first.
Mr. Kopelman: Career first, okay. Well I was a field assistant from September '39 to May of '41. A year before that field assistants had been reclassified to a grade 4. I played a role in bringing this about. I was selected by the union in New York along with a representative of the union in Philadelphia to present the case for reclassification of this position. Bernie Dubin, the Philadelphia representative, and I represented the field organization in negotiations with Mike Shortley who then headed the whole field organization. We had to meet him in Baltimore and I became the leading spokesman and negotiator and was hailed by the field assistants and the union for my success in persuading Mike Shortley that our jobs deserved upward reclassification. But, in May of '41 I was jumped two grades over the heads of men with a lot more seniority than I by Hugh McKenna, who was the man who originally hired me and was then the regional representative of what was then called the Bureau of Old-Age and Survivors Insurance.
Question: That was in New York, wasn't it?
Mr. Kopelman: That's the SSA in New York, right. He picked me over men with a great deal more seniority than I, and I was made administrative assistant ("third man" was the unofficial title) of the Borough Hall Field office, which was then called-Brooklyn I. It was one of the three largest offices in the New York area, the other two were the Midtown and Downtown Field Offices.
Question: When you began in '39, your first job then as a field assistant, was it in New York?
Mr. Kopelman: Yes, it was as a field assistant in New York. (The Bronx I office at 215 E. 149 Street.) I came down to Washington to undergo six weeks of training. (Two weeks of basic training in the socio-economics of insecurity and four weeks of technical training on the original law, the 1939 amendments, government in general, SSB, etc.) They gave centralized training for field assistants. They had just had the 1939 amendments passed and signed in August of '39 and they hired these additional people to train field assistants. After completion of the training I was assigned to what was called the Bronx I Field Office and that was on 149th Street. And I was a field assistant there for about a year and a half, approximately, and in May of '41 I was picked for the administrative assistant in the Borough Hall Office. It was a grade-7 job. But they couldn't jump me three grades; they jumped me two grades to a grade 6 and then a year later I was promoted to the full rank of the job, a grade 7. I was the third man, third administrative officer of that office which, as I say, was one of the three largest offices by far in the New York Region, or for that matter one of the largest offices in the country.
Now I was administrative assistant in the Borough Hall Office under Joe Canty, who was then the district manager and is presently retired. I worked there until November of '42, about a year and a half, when I was promoted to a GS-8 as Assistant Manager of what was then called the Bronx II office (the Fordham office). I was Assistant Manager there until April of '44. Charlie Ferber, also now retired, was then manager of the Bronx II office. In April of '44 I was again promoted and again it was a jump of two grades to the GS-10 position of Assistant Manager of the Buffalo New York Field Office. In four and a half years, I had advanced by five grades, a very unusual thing for that time. Well, in the meantime, they had offered me the job of manager of the Trenton office, GS-9. I accepted but in the interval, before they could effectuate the appointment, the GS-10 job of Assistant Manager in Buffalo, (which was then a Class 1 office) had opened and the late Jim McGuinn who had succeeded McKenna strongly felt he needed me there. So I accepted that assignment, though it meant moving 430 miles to Buffalo. So I jumped from a grade 8 to a grade 10. This was in April of '44 that I became Assistant Manager of the Buffalo office.
I was Assistant Manager of the Buffalo office until August of '47, when I was promoted to Manager of the Binghampton office. That was a grade II. Again, they had other jobs that they were going to send me on and I accepted, but things happened in the interval between the time I accepted and the time they were able to implement the actions--there were many problems in reintegrating the returning veterans and promotional chains were broken again and again. Anyhow, in August of '47 I arrived in Binghampton as Field Office Manager, Grade 11. I was there from August of '47 until June of '48 when I was promoted to Manager of the Williamsburg-Brooklyn District Office, (Brooklyn III), which was a Class 1 office. So I was promoted to a Grade 12 in less than a year's time.
At that time I was not quite 35 years old, I was 34½ . I was one of the youngest Managers in the country at that time. And I was not only Manager of that office, but also played a very important role in the various advisory capacities to the Regional Representative and his ARR's. Joe Tighe, the Regional Representative, had advisory committees of managers that advised the Regional Office on a whole host of areas and I served in a variety of such capacities as member and chairman of these various standing as well as ad hoc advisory groups of managers. To illustrate, the standing committees consisted of the Claims Committee, Training Committee, Management and Administration Committee, Public Relations Committee. I also chaired ad hoc Committees on the Classification of Managers, Guardianship Policy, Promotional Panels, etc.
In February of 1955, I was promoted to Assistant Regional Representative. That was a Grade 13 job. It was later reclassified to a Grade 14. I remained an Assistant Regional Representative for roughly 8½ years until August of 1963 when I accepted a GS-15 with Central Office. (I had been offered Central Office jobs before but I had turned them down.) In August of '63, because of a combination of events, the fact that my older daughter was going to George Washington University, entering her senior year, and a younger one had decided to become a freshman there, I was ready to accept. So I came down to Baltimore and accepted the job of Supervisory Management Analyst with the old Central Planning Staff. And if you want to know what the Central Planning Staff is, I'll explain. If you know---
Question: Yes; I know what it is.
Mr. Kopelman: All right. I was Supervisory Management Analyst, Grade 15, with the Central Planning Staff from August of '63 until March 1 of '65 when I was made a member of the original HIB Task Force. That's the handful of men appointed by Commissioner Ball and Art Hess, who was then Director of the Bureau of Disability Insurance, but was scheduled to head up the Bureau of Health Insurance. And the Task Force was responsible for planning for how the health insurance program would be administered.
At that time we didn't even have a bill. It's just that President Johnson had been reelected with a substantial majority and he brought in with him an overwhelming majority of Democrats in the Congress. Wilbur Mills had heretofore opposed the enactment of what became later Medicare legislation. As a matter of fact, he had virtually single-handedly stopped the enactment of such a bill the preceding year which passed the Senate the preceding year in '64, the King-Anderson Bill, which would have provided hospital insurance--but he prevented it even from coming to the floor of the House for a vote. But now, after the overwhelming Johnson victory of 1964, he saw the handwriting on the wall. He knew that the votes were there to get it out of his committee and that Johnson was determined to get it enacted. And Wilbur Mills is a very able guy, he committed himself publicly after the election to get out a bill and then he decided to take a hand in shaping the nature of that bill. And he did play a very dominant role, a very important role in shaping the way that legislation finally came out.
Well, when we started as a Task Force on March 1, 1965 we didn't have a bill yet. The House Ways and Means Committee was in executive session and various things they were doing, we got kind of informally reported to us and we had to develop our plans on what we thought they were likely to enact and to change them in the light of changes that actually took place between what it looked like they were going to do one day and what they actually did and so on and so forth. We started with a small handful of people, half a dozen or so. Initially, we all worked kind of together, informally consulting on every issue and then lead responsibilities were set out by Jim Murray, who was brought in to head up the Task Force.
Question: Oh, he was in on it.
Mr. Kopelman:: Yes, Jim Murray was brought in as the Staff Director of that Task Force (under Art Hess). I, at the beginning, was given the responsibility, because of my background, for planing for what the field structure would do in the administration of this program. And then one day Jim realized that in parceling out responsibilities, (this one would worry about systems, and this one reimbursement, etc) nobody had been assigned the responsibility for the contractors. And they were to play a major role because the administration of this program is primarily to be done through third parties, through contractors. So he said, "Dave, you take responsibility for planning for the role of the contractors in this program." Of course, the contractors were to be out there, and therefore part of the field, and I guess he felt the SSA field structure for health insurance could be deferred until he had some more urgent items out of the way and I was working on other things such as planning for how a Bureau of Health Insurance might be structured and so I might just as well work on the role of the contractors. And, that's the way it was. I didn't even have a very clear picture of what a contractor was at the time he gave me the assignment. And I knew no more about the health field than any reasonably well-informed layman. Of course it is true I had a Masters degree in clinical psychology. But I had never, not since all the way back before I came with SSA, done any work in clinical psychology. That was not the reason I was given that assignment, because of my health background. I'm sure Jim hadn't the vaguest idea what my academic degrees were, just that he felt I could handle it.
Then, we all in the Task Force proceeded to try to learn as much as we could about the health field. Harris Berman, who was a member of the Task Force, had been working in earlier groups with health planning and so he suggested readings for us and we started to immerse ourselves, night and day, in literature on the health field. Then we found that, as we read, there seemed to us to be significant disparities between what the health field was saying about itself and what some critical observers, in and out of the health field, were saying about it.
Question: Same as today.
Mr. Kopelman: So we started to look at what was what. Well, anyhow after we did the initial planning, in September of '65, a Bureau was actually established to administer the health insurance and Art Hess was made Director of that Bureau. At that time, I was made Deputy Assistant Bureau Director in charge of Intermediary Operations. There was to be an Assistant Bureau Director over me, but I had headed up the planing for this activity. I had been chief man and the expert in the whole area of intermediary contractor operations planing, and the Staff had grown from the handful to a sizeable number of individuals working under me and planning for this and dealing with the contractors and so on, proposed contractors, the insurance companies, Blue Cross-Blue Shield, the whole health field.
I remained Deputy Assistant Bureau Director, but Acting Head of the Intermediary Operation activity until about June of '66, when Tom Bell was made Assistant Bureau Director in charge of Intermediary Operations. Tom Bell was a GS-17 and I was a GS-16, but, I still, as you might find out if you went downstairs and talked with the people, had a hell of a lot to do with running Intermediary Operations. I was the second in command and if you'll turn off the machine (laughter) -
Question: All right.
Mr. Kopelman: Sometime in the latter part of '67, Tom Bell was made Deputy Director of this Bureau. (Howard Bost the original Deputy had left) and for a time I was acting Asst. Director again. You know, in my capacity as Deputy Assistant Director running Intermediary Operations. In November of '67, at Tom Tierney's request and with Art Hess' and Bob Ball's approval, et cetera, I became Assistant to the Director of the Bureau of Health Insurance, the third man up here, in terms of the front office (and in terms of actual responsibility for coordinating the work of the Bureau, the second man behind Tom himself). And that's what I've been ever since.
Question: I have another question to ask. You have been with Social Security now 34 or 35 years, and this question was suggested to me by Mr. Bortz, the Historian.
Mr. Kopelman: Abe Bortz, yes.
Question: He said, why don't you ask these guys that have been around a long time, top staff, (this is useful for him), ask them if they can recall some of the strong personalities in their careers, you know, other people, and your assessment of them. (No, I don't want to turn off the machine.) Some of the extraordinaryly strong, or in any way remarkable personalities that you've dealt with in 35 years here.
Mr. Kopelman: All right, let's take first the man who hired me, Hugh McKenna. He was a very handsome, young, blonde, blue-eyed man. He's one of the reasons I came to work for this outfit. I said if a bright young guy like this, with an excellent mind is placed so high, this must be a good outfit to work for. We discussed a number of subjects during our interview, (not only from the standpoint of broad directions in which the world was moving, but also scholarly matters,) of course, the fact that I had a Phi Beta Kappa key dangling from my watch chain didn't hurt me either in favorably impressing Hugh. But, as I said before, I was personally very much impressed with Hugh McKenna. Whatever other things he may be, he was an able guy, he was bright, he was highly intelligent, and he was an administrator. As I walked out of his office after being interviewed by him, at first I wasn't sure whether I'd accept the job. It was only $1,620 and I was making more than that as an Assistant Office and Traffic Manager in private industry. I was making about $44 or $45 a week. The $1,620 he was offering, only worked out to about $34.50 a week, and I had to support not only a wife, but I also had to help support my parents . But he made quite an impression on me that day. I didn't expect to see a young man so highly placed in the organization. He was the Regional Representative.
Question: Incidentally, how is it that he got to be Regional Representative? Did he have a big, a background--
Mr. Kopelman: Well, he came from the insurance field.
Question: Oh, that's what it was.
Mr. Kopelman: And he was down here working in the training office and John Corson, who was then the Bureau Director, a very powerful and decisive, tough administrator, was very impressed with Hugh and made him Regional Representative over, I might say, the vehement objections of Anna Rosenberg, who was the Regional Director in New York and was not without being a power in her own right, a very powerful political personality, very close to the Roosevelts.
Question: She didn't like McKenna. Why? Did she like somebody else better?
Mr. Kopelman: Well, she had her own man. And her own man was an able guy. So McKenna had one or two crosses to bear there as Regional Representative.
Question: I didn't mean to interrupt you. Go, ahead, you were talking about--
Mr. Kopelman: I was favorable impressed. He called me down to interview me for a job as a Field Assistant for the Social Security Administration. I knew virtually nothing about social security.
Question: How did he get a line on you?
Mr. Kopelman: Well, you see, the civil service examination had been given nationally. They called it, the position, Junior Professional Assistant. And they had a number of options under there, depending on where your major lay. I had taken the psychology option because I had an MA in clinical psych from Columbia University. It was also one of my majors when I got my Bachelor of Science Degree at New York University. And I scored very, very high on the exam and apparently it was the first option that had been marked by the Civil Service Commission so it was the first list S.S.B. could get, the Junior Psychology Assistant. And they were looking for bright, young, college-trained people to come into the organization, who they hoped could learn quickly and develop rapidly to assume junior leadership positions. Their experience had been, quite frankly, generally unfavorable with the first group of managers they hired. They hired them from a register made up as a result of what was called an unassembled examination. The unassembled examination was not a test. They had to write up their education and their work experience. And, depending on their skill in writing (or the skill of the person they hired to write it up for them), that's how they were rated. And John Corson had written an article, sometime in '40 I think it was, in which he had said they'd had a rather unhappy experience. They got a lot of hacks in people with an insurance background or military background, and so on, whose credentials were more impressive than their ability to perform, their ability to learn, and master a complex program, to plan ahead and give leadership, and so on. Corson added, however, that their younger men, the men whom they had hired as what were then called Assistant Personnel Clerks, who later became Field Assistants, and who were of my generation, were of an entirely different breed and proved to be very effective. They were bright, college-trained, graduated during the depths of depression. (I got my baccalaureate in '34, when, with my Phi Beta Kappa key, I was able to get a job, after pounding the pavements for 6 months, at $8 a week, working in a photo finishing line, in which I had been working ever since I was 14 years of age, going to school at night and so on and so forth.) So the specifics of my formal education was totally irrelevant to my coming to work for Social Security. But McKenna was impressed with my credentials, in terms of my academic ability, in terms of the kinds of jobs I'd held in private industry, and the fact I had managerial experience, and apparently was doing well because, to get $45 a week, I was one of the highest paid among my friends, by far. Of course, I put in 80 to 100 hours a week to earn it. I worked 7 days a week. But that was not unusual. That was par for the course.
Question: You still do.
Mr. Kopelman: I had scored on the Junior Professional Asst.--Psychology Option, I think I was--what the hell was I? Fourth or fifth highest in the country. And so, naturally, I was one of the first names he got. My marks were high, I was a Phi Beta Kappa, I had a Masters, and so on. And let me tell you, a Master's among the people picked for this GS-3 job was far from an exceptional occurrence.
Question: That's what Jack Futterman told us.
Mr. Kopelman: Oh, yes. I mean, they had their pick. A civil service job was the best possible job you could get. It had stability. You had decent hours that you could work. The most important thing was to be able to have a job that you could be secure in, and you could depend on supporting a family and meeting your obligations because things were terrible.
We were then in the grip of a recession. We had been in the grip of a depression when we graduated from college and then after some degree of recovery, there had been a recession. Some attribute the start of the depression--many economists attributed it to the onset of the Social Security taxes on January 1, '37, because they were regressive in character. But, anyhow, we were in the grip of a recession. And we had never gotten out of the really deep depression we were in, despite the Herculean efforts by FDR and the people who he brought in with him, and so on and so forth. The things they did, it helped. But what primarily got us out, let us face it, was the fact that war was looming. In September of '39 when I started to work, Germany had declared war on Poland, and Britain and France had declared war on Germany. It was the start of the world conflagration.
So, as I say, that's how--he offered me the job and I said, "Well, I have to think about it." I went home and I thought about it and my wife said, "Take it." One of the conditions he put was that he would have to assign me and place me anywhere in the New York Region and probably in Upstate New York. I couldn't pick where I was to work. I said to my wife, "You know, I've got to support my father and mother, and all these other things and your folks need some help too." She replied, "Let's take it." (We had been married over a year). "Let's take it. I'd be willing to go. I want to see you out of a job where you have to put in 100 hours a week and where you can't get anywhere no matter what your ability is because you're working for a small outfit and there's nepotism, only the relatives are going to get to the top jobs, and so on, no matter what you do." And so after thinking about it I called McKenna back and said, "Okay." And he said well, he's got to talk with Rosenberg and so on, there's all kinds of clearances, and he'd let me know. And then I remember it very vividly, because the telegram telling me of the selection came on Yom Kippur. And I have a very strongly Orthodox Jewish background. I was trained for the rabbinate until I had decided my family's economic circumstances were just too desperate to continue, and I felt I didn't want to become a rabbi. And I was then still very observant. The telegram came on Yom Kippur. My wife opened the telegram; I wouldn't open it. And she hurrayed that I had been appointed. And I was given a tremendous amount of time to get ready. I was told to report the following day at the Regional office, a Friday, to be sworn in, and to locate in Washington by Sunday and report for the start of the training class Monday morning. Incidentally, that was par for the course, back then. I remember, for example, when I was asked whether I would accept the job in Binghamton, I said, "Well, where's Binghamton?" I didn't even have a clear idea where Binghamton is. I'd like to find out a little bit more about it. At that point-- who was the Regional Rep? It was Jim McGuinn. He said, "Well, take all the time you want to, Dave I'll hang on the phone. Take a minute." And there was no joking about it. That was it. You made your decision and you cast your iron. You couldn't say, well, I'll take a day or two and think about it, consult with the family, etc.--no time for this. And so I got the telegram on Thursday, I was told to report to the Regional Office on Friday, and on Sunday I was on my way to Washington, to report Monday morning at the headquarters, which I think were on "I" Street back then. Another thing that impressed me favorably as I went out I was asked to sign the papers and get a transportation request so I could get a ticket and--there was a young guy, a young, bright guy to fill these out for me and I said, "Boy, this really seems to be a terrific outfit to work for." This bright young guy's name happened to be Joe Godfrey.
Question: I don't know Joe Godfrey.
Mr. Kopelman: He's our Regional Rep of BHI in New York and our careers have been closely linked. We became close personal friends several years after I was hired and have remained very close friends to this day. He was one of McKenna's assistants, later became one of McKenna's Assistant Regional Reps back in the early 40's along with Lou Zawatsky and another man who is no longer around.
Question: That reminds me. Let me ask you this. Going through the Historian's photographs, I came across a picture of you and your wife. I guess it was your wife.
Mr. Kopelman: At a party for the Payment Center? It was then called the Area Office.
Mr. Kopelman: Lou Zawatzky and his wife?
Question: It looks like a New Year's Eve or Holidays or something.
Mr. Kopelman: It was a party, probably, in honor of the first anniversary of the New York Area Office. The New York Area Office is the antecedent of the New York Payment Center, what is now called the Mid-Atlantic or something Program Center, whatever the hell the latest name is.
Joe Canty, who had been my boss when I was the third man in the Borough Hall, the old Brooklyn I Office, was the first Area Chief. The Area Offices-- the first Area Office was established in 1942 when our Bureau was kicked out of Washington, were told to get out because we were a non-war agency. SSA was kicked out of there. The building was taken away from us and they had to decentralize, so they tried to decentralize the claims function. They figured, instead of being able to move the whole claims function out into Baltimore--space was at a premium during the war--they decided to set up a couple of area offices, they called them, where they would do the claims reviewing, which, up to that point, had been done all centrally in Washington. And they established a New York Area Office and Joe Canty, who had then been Manager of the Borough Hall Field Office, was picked as the first Area Chief.
Question: Oh, even though he had been in a field office they--
Mr. Kopelman: Yes, because he was an able guy, (complex, emotional and with a strong ego but very capable). And Joe had a legal background; he was trained as a lawyer. He was picked to be Chief of the New York Area Office. That was the first anniversary of the New York Area Office. Joe and I had come to be very close when I was his assistant in the Borough Hall Office and Joe strongly wanted me to come to the party.
Question: Oh, it was that late.
Mr. Kopelman: It was in '43, that party. In '42 they had established the office and Joe had been picked and sent there and this was probably in '43.
Mr. Kopelman: And I was Assistant Manager of the Fordham Office at the time; Lou Zawatzky was an Assistant Regional Rep in New York; Joe Godfrey, I believe, was an Assistant Regional Rep also.
Question: So Zawatzky, who started out in claims, actually went to the field.
Mr. Kopelman: Yes. He went to the field in 1940 I believe it was--'40 or '41--as an Assistant Regional Representative to Hugh McKenna. He was picked to be one of Hugh McKenna's Assistant Regional Representatives.
Question: Okay. I'll get you back on the track here. We're talking about, as you were telling us, the formidable personalities you've known in SSA.
Mr. Kopelman: Yes. Well, of course, Lou made a considerable impression on me and we became friends. I was greatly impressed with the fact that Lou had a good mind, was a very decent human being and had a fine sense of humor. We had something in common there. When I feel well, I'm given to being a bit of a raconteur myself and to the making of sardonic comments and to a half-humorous, half-tragic view of life. I see life through a glass darkly. The only way I can cope with that is to laugh about it, inwardly or outwardly. So Lou and I became friends and, Lou had a very high opinion of my ability, too, and liked me as a person. Joe Godfrey was one of the people who also greatly impressed me. My District Manager in the Bronx did not impress me overly favorably, Colonel Frank Huntington Phipps, Jr. (may he rest in peace) who was a horse's rear of notable proportions. He had commanded the N.Y. Harbor in World War I and--it's not kind to put it into your history; you ought to really erase it. He had commanded the New York Harbor during the World War I and I could never understand how we won the war.
Question: Well they were never attacked there.
Mr. Kopelman: Things he did, I don't want to repeat.
Question: Well, this is a positive--
Mr. Kopelman: Let's look at the positive personalities. I was very much impressed with the first Assistant Manager I met, a young fellow by the name of Leo Kogan--bright, possessor of a baccalaureate and an L.L.B., couple of years older than I, but only a couple of years older, very action-oriented, hard-working, good sense of humor. He was my first Assistant Manager. I was less than enchanted with Francis J. McDonald, who is regarded as--
Question: Is that the guy with the moustache?
Mr. Kopelman: Francis J.--
Question: Oh, McDonald, the trainer. The guy who--
Mr. Kopelman: Now he is one of the Pantheon of the gods here.
Question: Why is that?
Mr. Kopelman: Do you want to take your thing off here? (Laughter)
Mr. Kopelman: I ended up getting the highest mark, of all the field assistants in that six week training course in Washington back in 1939. They gave examinations every 2 weeks and then an examination at the end of the course, and I got the highest mark by far of anybody in that training class.
Question: Did you work hard for it?
Mr. Kopelman: Yes, because it is my nature to do so; that's the way I am. He then leveled with me. First of all he praised me highly. I told him how I had felt. He said, "Yes, l know. You jumped up when I criticized New Yorkers and you really let me have it." I said, "You don't realize how close I came to quitting the organization." And I don't know how many might have quit, good people, able people, because of this kind of totally unwarranted--I believe that to be a totally undesirable approach to use with people. I condemned it then; I condemn it now.
Question: He was acting sort of like a Marine DI or something?
Mr. Kopelman: Right, like a Marine DI. He came from VA. He was acting like a Marine DI and I thoroughly, philosophically, in every which way, thoroughly disapprove of this kind of approach to people, especially in a training setting--he ridiculed people, their accents, the cities they came from, etc.
Question: He was a little bit older than the rest of you, wasn't he?
Mr. Kopelman: Yes, quite a bit older.
Question: How much older was he than the rest of you all?
Mr. Kopelman: Now, mind you, I came down there as a kid of 25, so I guess anybody 35 looked like an old man to me.
Question: He was about 10 years older.
Mr. Kopelman: Well, I don't know. I'm 60 now. I think he was quite a bit older than that.
Question: He was older then. More than 10 years?
Mr. Kopelman: Oh, yes. I would say that he must have been close to 20 years older. You can check that, but he would have been about 20 years older. I deplored this behavior I described as at other times when I objected strongly to his savage attack on those who disagreed with him in a conference or someplace; his forming hasty opinions of people on the basis of hearing some part of their presentation at a meeting, and then conveying it to their chiefs, not telling it to these people in their presence where they had some opportunity to rebut this opinion. He might insult you at a meeting, publicly humiliate you, and then also, and much more deadly, make some derogatory comment about your performance to your chief. Not all chiefs. McKenna was an honest man. McKenna would, if he heard something derogatory about you, sit down and talk with you. Some others did not. They immediately put you on their "S" list. I will not translate the term "S". I'm sure you've encountered it.
Question: A person who operates like that wouldn't, nowadays, rise that high in the Administration.
Mr. Kopelman: But, he came in high.
Question: Well, that's what I wanted to ask.
Mr. Kopelman: He came in high.
Question: Very uncharacteristic, isn't it, of the sort of place this is now?
Mr. Kopelman: Very uncharacteristic, very uncharacteristic. But remember, in those years, human relations as a technique of management had not come to the fore, hadn't become an "in thing" in prevailing management theory let alone practice. The Frederick Taylor School theory of Management prevailed. You get the maximum out of somebody who works for you. Hell, he was expected to be grateful he had a job. And he did what he was expected to, work his goddam butt off and take his pay gratefully. And he either did what he was told, or by God, he was booted the hell out. It's not what humanics, let alone the later developments, such as participative management and a whole host of union-labor agreements in government called for. There was a union then, but only in the New York Region and that union was--it wasn't a company union.
Question: (laughing) They were all communists, huh?
Mr. Kopelman: Well, I mean, that was the reputation they had and so on. White-collar workers didn't have unions to speak of. The only reason that union thrived was because Anna Rosenberg the Regional Director was very pro-union. That was her background. She'd been a labor negotiator. She joined the union herself and so it was fashionable to be a member of the union. It was a good union. It had its problem children and I'm sure it probably had a couple of crypto-communists in it, but it was a good union and the majority of the people in there weren't that way. There were people who believed in the philosophy of mutual respect and constructive negotiations between management and labor.
Question: No; I was kidding when I said that.
Mr. Kopelman: Yes, yes. "Communist," that was the designation all too liberally applied to anyone with a progressive idea. Well, after all, when we went around making contact with employers in those early years, that was the designation not delicately applied by many, if not most of them, to the social security program. It must be some communist scheme foisted on the American people.
Question: Yes, we've had others--
Mr. Kopelman; And, of course, Landon campaigned in '36 on the fact that not a dollar in social security benefits would ever be paid.
Question: I beg your pardon.
Mr. Kopelman: Alf Landon, who was the Republican candidate for President.
Question: Did he threaten that?
Mr. Kopelman: No; he didn't threaten it.
Question: Did he threaten the program?
Mr. Kopelman: No, no. He was saying that, that was the fraud perpetrated on the American people.
Question: Oh, oh. He was accusing, yes, right.
Mr. Kopelman: That's right. And he asserted that not a dollar in benefits would ever be paid, it was just a fraud. That was back in '36. Not that he was going to undo something, but that social security was a fraud and not a dollar in benefits would ever be paid.
Question: Okay. Now, you talked about McDonald.
Mr. Kopelman: Well, as I say, remember that there are others who will speak quite highly of him.
Question: On what basis---
Mr. Kopelman: And there are some things I do have to say in his favor. There were things he did that I disliked strongly and I disagreed with as a matter of principle.
Question: Those who did like him or liked his methods, or whatever, what would they ascribe to him? What was he popular for?
Mr. Kopelman: Well, that he had a good training course, which he did; that he spoke his mind to his chiefs, which he did. He had guts. And then they attribute some virtues to him, which are rather elusive as far as I'm concerned. And I'm not the one you should talk to if you're looking for somebody to admire Francis J. McDonald. I think you ought to talk to Hugh McKenna, Bernie Popick, some others around here, not to me.
Question: Okay. What are some other of these remarkable people that--
Mr. Kopelman: Harold Packer, our late Asst. General Counsel, was a man I respected very highly and looked on as an older brother. He was a great legal scholar, had a generally fine mind, a keen sense of humor, great integrity and a strong sense of social justice. His commitment to the welfare of our beneficiaries was absolute and he also had great compassion. We were very close friends (our Judaic training and backgrounds were very similar), and Altmeyer impressed me greatly. A very able man, a very dedicated man, a guy with a lot of guts and courage, a strong commitment to the social philosophy underlying the program. Incidentally, most of the people associated with this program in leadership roles were of that caliber. And he had the courage to stand up to attempts to interfere politically with our administration of the program. And when Altmeyer was the head man, attempts by Congressmen or by other politicals to interfere with the way he administered the program were generally brought to a decisive halt. At least that's what I saw from where I stood.
Question: I wasn't aware of that side of things. What sort of things would a Congressman try to do?
Mr. Kopelman: Like the fact that maybe you ought to make a different decision on a claims file before you.
Question: On a particular claim.
Mr. Kopelman: And the fact that you ought to hire a particular individual because he was a relative or deserving in some other faithful member of a particular political party.
Question: Are you asserting some of that still goes on?
Mr. Kopelman: I would not wish to suggest one way or another. But this man resisted the kinds of pressures to make our organization subordinate, and there were very powerful pressures that had to be coped with. Don't quote me on that in an article; I'm still not planning to retire this year. But he was a man of courage and committed to the principle that we were working for the people who were covered under social security who were paying our salary and for our beneficiaries. We had not only a public trust in terms of the fact that as Government employees we have a public trust, but a particular one as employees of this organization, because these people were paying our salaries. And this program we were working for was one to serve the people. And these people deserved the courtesy, the attention, the concern that we would expect to give our employer.
Question: Those are sentiments that you don't hear much any more.
Mr. Kopelman: No, you don't, I regret to say, because they're very valid sentiments. And the commitment to what is the purpose of this program, what was it designed to do, and what are you there to do for it. And, therefore, our understanding of people and compassion for people, and the willingness to make allowance and to lean over backwards to help within the framework of the law.
Question: That was certainly characteristic of the people who, either like you who dealt with the public at a professional level, or like Milt Freedman who dealt with the public at a professional level in the claims phase. Was it also true back then in the late thirties and early forties of the run-of-the-mill clerical employee? Did that same spirit infect them?
Mr. Kopelman: Yes, because, you see, from the top on down, first of all many of the people who came in at the professional level and rose to be assistant managers, supervisors, field reps, and so on, had this kind of social philosophy, this kind of commitment. Altmeyer believed strongly in it. The people under him, if they didn't believe it, they just talked as if they believed. And this was a consistent and determined policy, emphasized in your training, emphasized to every new employee, whether it was a clerical or professional, particularly professional, of course. What was the philosophy underlying our program? What was this program designed for? What was the rationale behind it? Why did it take the form it did? What was it supposed to do? What were our responsibilities? How do we relate to the public? And this was drilled in very strongly, and people who stepped out of line on this were brought to heel.
Question: And the same sort of deal was made with, say, an errant clerk, if it's screwed up here it's going to mess up some poor guy's record.
Mr. Kopelman: Yes; that's right. And this was the thought always, "Look, you messed this up; some poor guy won't get a benefit. He won't have the money that he needs," and so on. Of course, we were able to do this with maybe some greater effectiveness when our benefits began to mean something in size.
Mr. Kopelman: Up till 1951, when was the first time we paid decent benefits? Yes, I guess 1951--you know what the average benefit was?
Question: I remember Mr. Freedman told us it was $10 or something by 1940.
Mr. Kopelman: Well by 1940 it wasn't $10 but it was about maybe $20 or something a month, and they were not permitted to earn more than $14.99 a month. Not a week, a month. Now we soon learned that the people, of course, couldn't believe that the work clause was so low. So we trained our people in interviewing to say you may not earn--we didn't say $15 or more a month because then they made mistakes; they thought they could earn $15. (Do you know that if they earned $15 they not only lost that month's benefit, but they lost an additional month as a penalty? That's how harsh the law was originally.) So we said you may not earn more than $14.99 a month, and we emphasized not a week, but a month. We made that firm. We used that phraseology to hammer that home so that the beneficiaries would understand this, because this was our concern for beneficiaries. We felt sick when we learned they'd earned over $14.99. We had to, of course, impose a penalty; we had no option. But we were sick about it because these were people who desperately needed every dollar. And yet that had to be done.
So to try to prevent this from happening again, we did this. We went to all kinds of lengths to develop proof of age for them. This was important. Many of these people had been immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe. They had no idea of exactly when they were born, let alone the ability to develop some proof, birth certificates or anything of that sort. And we developed proofs for them in some way or other. We put our brains to work to try to figure out how could we interview them so we could develop memory pegs by which we could help them to pin down when they were born. And I trained Staff to do so. I used to get a kick out of it, training Staff who were not Jewish, to ask people, How old are you now? "Is that your age at your last birthday, or the next birthday?" Near what holiday were you born? Was it near Passover? Near Hanukkah? I had a hell of a job teaching them how to pronounce Hanukkah. But that was part of it. Then with Italian people, to say "Whenna you born?" not "When were you born?" Because all he hears is the word born and he says "Italy." Don't stop and correct them and say, "I didn't ask you that; I asked you when you were born." I put down Italy for the place of birth and go on to the next question. "How old you are?" Obviously, "When were you born?" Isn't going to work with him. "How old you are last birthday?; next birthday?" Then go back, "What month?" and so on. Teach people how to speak to people at the levels at which they understand. For example, after he finished the application, and you reviewed it with him, then say in simple Italian "Scrive nome" which meant "sign name". Then, of course, they were terribly embarrassed, if they couldn't write their names. Many of them were illiterate. You told them, "That's Okay. Most people who come here sign with an X. Don't worry about it."
Question: How does that compare with the situation in the field now? Certainly you don't have any more Eastern or Southern European immigrants.
Mr. Kopelman: No; it's changed drastically. But you have people who occupy somewhat similar kinds of status--the blacks, the Puerto Ricans, the generally disadvantaged, and maybe some are immigrants. You don't have quite the language difficulty we had earlier. Many of the people we dealt with in the earlier years had little command of English and worked in industries where they didn't need much English to get along. The foreman was Ukrainian or he was something else, and so on.
We learned to communicate. Of course, we asked them to bring a son or daughter along, and when they were around, it was a bonus; then we had somebody to interpret. But even if you didn't have an interpreter, you could manage generally to communicate. Also, we were helped by the fact that quite a few field office employees spoke a number of foreign languages because of our parents. I myself was an immigrant; I was born in Europe. So I could speak a couple of languages. But there were always some first generation Americans such as Italian boys and girls who were born in this country but spoke Italian, and so on. So we managed to communicate with most of these people. But there was something special about these claimants. They were poor people, they were ragged, sometimes their earnings were very meager. But, I guess there was this difference. They were most of them determined that at any cost to themselves, their kids, generally, were going to go a hell of a lot higher in the world than they did. They worked night and day, they'd lay down their lives, they'd starve, do anything for the kids to go and get ahead in the world, give them an education. They worked hard. There were very few visitors to a field office who were behavior problems, as such. I mean, you might have one who was very disturbed, one who couldn't understand, he was deaf, or he was becoming senile, and so on and so forth. We had to cope with all those problems back then, but we didn't have drug addicts like in BSSI now, and we had darned few militants who were abusive toward you or of people who had been on welfare for generations.
Question: Throwing rocks in the windows. (laughing)
Mr. Kopelman: We had occasional violent individuals and we handled them. But I guess, generally speaking, there were differences which stemmed from the fact that they had a different kind of history. They had been kicked around, they were treated with contempt by the dominant American culture. They were badly exploited. They came from a culture where they were regarded as less than dirt and they were the workers, the peasants. The wealthy didn't come here. Or they were Jews or other pariahs. But they had, I guess, some inner resources which also helped them. And those were different times and people were closer together. A variety of things in our society which have--now weakened greatly--the fabric was already weakening then and it weakened a hell of a lot since then. Family bonds were closer and they had a strong sense of community. The brothers, the man and his brother, were both terribly poor but they lived next door to one another or a block away. Families were close and helped one another, accepted responsibility for one another. And they had various organizations, beneficial organizations, to help each other during times of trouble. And then, of course, they were not surrounded by such a high level of expectation, too, don't forget. Everybody around them was poor as hell, too. It was an occasional one that had something. So the gaps weren't that great.
Question: In other words, they were able to appreciate how much of a gap there was.
Mr. Kopelman: I mean, they didn't see all those gaps because, as I say, most of those around them were as poor as they were, or poorer. And they considered themselves comparatively better off because they were not at least receiving money from charity, the greatest humiliation they suffer in their minds. I knew people who came in who were hungry, hadn't had enough to eat. We would try to get them to apply for assistance, tell them, look, you know, that's why the program was designed. The humiliations, the blow to their self-esteem were so enormous that they actually starved. They did without. They came in rags, just so they shouldn't apply for it. I think it was a mistake. I think they should have. But, unfortunately, the process had some demeaning qualities in it.
Question: Yes, it still does.
Mr. Kopelman: It doesn't seem to stop too many people, though, these days.
Question: Well, they're not Italian.
Mr. Kopelman: Things are different now.
Question: Well, I know we've kept you for a long time. Would you like to give us, for the record, anything you'd like--your views, reflections, or whatever, on either your career or anything else?
Mr. Kopelman: Well, I think SSA benefitted a great deal, the Government benefitted a great deal, the program has benefitted a great deal because of the kind of people that the situation of the depression--the way the program started--brought to them. And the dedication, the competence, the strong concern for people that actuated these people who started, who--I saw a memorandum which troubled me a little bit the other day, referred to them as the senior memories of SSA, but implies that--
Kopelman: Senior memories, but implied that, you know, we've got to get rid of these guys so we can get some, you know, different kind of blood in. Not because of me personally, because, frankly, my situation is such that I can, tomorrow, say, you know, "Go to hell." But I think our program and our organization benefitted greatly from these earlier employees. Not just because I was a member of that group, but because I have been greatly impressed throughout the years with the dedication and competence of this group. And you look around this organization and you look at some of the people in the highly placed jobs who are in the younger or middle-aged category, and ask them who hired them, and who promoted them, and who developed them, who do they regard as their mentors, you know. You'll find a lot of them will say strongly that my generation did that for them, and inspired them, too. I think we were fortunate in the kind of leadership we had, generally. Some of them, as you know, I'm not enthused about, but generally speaking, the quality of our leadership was quite high. In addition to were the people already mentioned, there were fine, able men like Jim McGuinn, guys with outstanding minds like Bob Ball and Art Hess, Tom Tierney with his ready wit and outstanding knowledge in the health field, and, oh, too many others to mention.
We went through some very rough times first of all to get this program accepted at a time when even organized labor was suspicious of us, thought it was some kind of socialist or communist scheme foisted on the people of this country. I don't mean the handful of leaders of progressive unions--I don't mean Sidney Hillman and Dave Dubinsky and Louie Antonelli and so on. I mean at the level of the working, the business agents and the presidents of the locals and the union people themselves. The small employers and the Chamber of Commerce and the NAM, it goes without saying that they regarded us as subversives in the early years of the program. But it was an uphill struggle to get them to accept social security as a proper thing for this country to do. Now nobody gives any thought to it. It's got an active and overwhelming endorsement again and again. Back then it was a very controversial program and people were very suspicious of it
Question: It was controversial even into the fifties and early sixties.
Mr. Kopelman: Right. But it was a hell of a job getting there. Then we went through a war and were a non-war agency and the lowest on the scale of priorities for space and other things. And GSA's ideas of what was proper for a Government office was the cheapest and as uncomfortable as possible so our field offices were in walk-ups at Post Offices (tough for older or crippled people to get to) or offices in dilapidated buildings, etc. Also, when you took an examination for a grade 5 job and you were scored among the highest group and the job was worth a grade 5, they offered you a grade 3. That was a deliberate policy to show how this program could be administered at low cost. And what a hell of a task it took over the years to come to a situation where our grades--I'm not talking about now, but a couple of years back--were comparable to the grades of other government agencies.
Question: Well they still are.
Mr. Kopelman: In addition to the general pattern, our grades were lower than other governmental agencies for the same jobs, by design. I was Assistant Manager of the Buffalo Office. The Manager above me was the only other male. It was World War II and I guess the draft board decided that they would take me after they took women and children (after they finished my physical examination). It was kind of, you know, a blow to one's self-esteem, but these are things one has to face, the way they classified me. But the only other man in that Class I field office was the manager who was close to 65 and I was then in my early thirties. I weighed about 130 pounds, sopping wet. Aside from the fact that we had to deal with the male chauvinist prejudice when claimants or other visitors were angry and they wanted to see somebody to present their grievance, it had to be a man because in their minds obviously only men carried the real clout. But there were more mundane things that being the only young male compelled me to face. Every damn time they delivered a shipment--all those heavy cartons, papers and forms and so on--I had to go down and carry them up on my back. My Manager--he went down too, when he was in but I mean, after all, he was an old man, and besides that he was out of the office for considerable periods of time. I won't comment on his capacity and prowess. If you'll turn off the machine I'll tell about the instructions I got when I went up there from my chief. (Laughing).
Mr. Kopelman: For about a year or two up there, I ran myself ragged as Assistant Manager of the Buffalo Office 3 days a week and 2 days a week also managing the Niagara Falls Office because we couldn't get a man up there as Manager. We were too short-handed and we were very low on the priority scale. So we just had to do that. Then, you know, shortages in equipment and supplies, all kinds of things. And then we lived through--
Question: How many hours a week did you work when you were there in Buffalo? Just as a curiosity.
Mr. Kopelman: Well, of course, at that time, you see, while the war was on, we got two holidays a year, New Year's Day and Christmas Day. Those were the only official holidays. You worked every other holiday. You worked all day Saturday. Not half a day, all day Saturday. That was official, let alone the extra work you did dragging the stuff home or, you know, coming early or going home late or being stuck on the way to work. I don't know whether you know anything about Buffalo weather. Buffalo has lots of weather and it's all bad. It's not unusual to get 12-foot snowdrifts and 15-foot drifts. And I had to go out and service contact stations--what they used to call itinerant service-- and get to these communities 50 miles or more from Buffalo by public transportation, couldn't get a car, and so on and so forth. And you know, leaving home in the early morning and getting home 9, 10, 11 at night because that's how long it took you to get back via public transportation in bad weather. So I put in plenty of long hours, long hours officially and plenty of hours afterwards. But, we didn't regard it as anything exceptional. For a time we didn't get paid anything extra for working every Saturday and all holidays. And then Congress, in its infinite wisdom, finally decided to pay us extra for the fact that we were working all these holidays and working 6 days a week, 48 hours a week nominally, a hell of a lot more actually. They first gave us $300 a year more, then they raised it to $600 a year more, flat amount. Everybody got that for his overtime work.
As far as in here is concerned, I still believe, as I believed through much of my life, that the basic rewards for your work you find within yourself. You'd better find them within yourself because in the last analysis if you work in the Government service and you get to the point where you try to make decisions, the higher you go the greater the frustration tolerance has to be, the greater your recognition that a whole host of forces impinge on a decision and you may have only the perception from your vantage point. But at all events the measure of value has to come from within you. You have to ask yourself honestly, did I give it my best? Did I try to do that which, in terms of the information that I had before me, that I knew of, and so on, seemed to be the best in the public interest? Did I try to bear in mind, at all times, what was the purpose for which the program was designed? To whose drum beat am I supposed to march? Because in the last analysis this is where the greatest reward comes and this where the greatest punishment comes. If you look at yourself in the mirror and you say, "I did a lousy job, today," or "I let myself myself be seduced because they were fawning on me and patting me on the back and telling me what a great guy I was," and so on. "Did I let myself, as a result of that because I wanted them to like me, did I do something which I shouldn't have done, which really, looking back on it now, I should not have done, given the balance?" Decisions are seldom clear cut. It's seldom black or white. There are always grays and sometimes you have to make the "least worst" kind of decision. None of the options makes me happy, but which is the least worst? Not just in terms of its immediate impact, but you must cultivate the ability to look ahead, to see the impact of your decision, of the alternatives available to you several years hence; trying to look ahead rather than just, "I'll get out of this situation for now," which may create a worse situation a year or two later, much worse, than if I met it a different way now.
And everybody has to do so at times, if he's introspective, a trait which I find all too lacking in many people. I don't mean introspective to the point of paralysis and being unable to make a decision, or introspective to the point where you're totally ineffective because you're waiting for the perfect decision which is impossible of attainment -it's an imperfect world, after all. There are no perfect decisions, certainly not on complex social and economic issues, on human issues. So if you can develop the characteristic of saying to yourself, "What happened?" "Where was I successful?" "Where was I a failure?" "Why?" Don't flagellate yourself. Try not to anyway. No point in it. But "Why?" "Why did it work well?" "Why didn't it work well?" If I don't know the answer myself, talk to somebody who I think is smarter maybe, or wiser, or maybe not smarter but he has another perspective I might pick up. "Why did this work, and why didn't that work?" And out of that you learn. You learn a lot about how to deal with people, even if you didn't take any courses in psychology, as I have, even if you don't have an extensive background in the mainsprings of human behavior, and I've always kept my interest in this and done a tremendous amount of reading and study on my own in this field. Or whether it's a decision of an administrative character, or what you will, or of a program character. And ask yourself, "Where was it good?" "Where wasn't it good?" and to face up to it honestly. Even if you can't face up to it with others, at least face up to it yourself and decide you're going to change where you're not doing too well. And to ask yourself whether you on balance, you've most of the time done what you should have done. You made your mistakes but you've done some good things. On balance you think you've done more good things than you've done bad things; well then, you've done pretty well. And so you didn't get the reward you expected, the external reward. Well, if you're going to base your fundamental feelings about your work and your accomplishments on this then you're going to be down in the dumps, because somebody will get a reward that you thought you should have gotten or he'll get more of a reward than you think he should have gotten, or vice versa. It's going to affect your work. That's not the real measure. You're human so you'll be annoyed. The next morning you rise from the ashes again like a phoenix. There's more work to be done, there are problems to be solved, and there's a battle to be fought. And if you lost today, okay, so you lost. The world didn't come to an end. There will be other days and there are going to be other chances to right the wrong. So wait until the time is more propitious. Then you may try again. You may win the next time.
And if I were to give people some advice on that score, this is the kind of advice I would give. I would also urge them to remain open to new ideas. Remain open to the fact that things can happen, things may change. The basis on which you made a decision has changed and now the old decision may not be valid any more. And also maybe new techniques have been developed for assessing what's going on. You ought to be receptive to them. Always be open to training and to learning and try to stay open to the lifestyle changes that take place too. Irene can tell you, it's been a terrific wrench for a guy trained in my tradition or religious and ethical background to be able to see some of the modern movies, hear some of the modern plays, listen to some of the young people, the way they talk and what some of their lifestyles are, and then try to say, "Well, there may be something to what they say, even though that's not my way of doing things or not my way of looking at it. It may not be without some validity." Don't just say, "You know, she's a girl and she uses language that a truck-driver wouldn't have used in my day, therefore she's no good." Or flat-out reject their way of seeing things because it's different from mine.
And keep your mind sharp. Always keep learning, keep learning on your own. Decide on your own to take a course. That's the way you stay vital and that's the way you stay effective. Become moribund and you develop arteriosclerosis of the brain and an arteriosclerotic approach to things and your organization is going to become that way too. If an organization gets enough of you like that, unable to see a new idea, unable to accept any other view than their own view, it will deteriorate very badly. I'll say we're not without a few of those in our present setup.