Blanche Coll Interviews
During the 1980s independent scholar Blanche Coll conducted a series of oral history interviews, several of which involved topics related to the history of Social Security and Medicare. We are pleased to be able to offer a set of these interviews here.
Interview with Alvin L. Schorr
Cleveland, Ohio, June 1, 1987
Blanche D. Coll, Interviewer
BC: Alvin, I want to talk to you this morning in connection with a book I am writing on welfare. Of course, you have had a long career in and out of the Federal Government. First, your background, ,just briefly??where you grew up and your education, perhaps how you got into the social welfare, social policy business, if we can put it that way?
AS: I grew up in the Bronx, New York. The family was my brother and mother. My father died early. I went to the City College of New York and on to social work school, about which I knew practically nothing. It turned out to be great good luck that it was a profession that interested me. Social work was something that one of my professors had done; it was in the late 1930's. In 1941 I graduated. There was nobody I knew who expected to have a job of any sort and it seemed like a good idea to go to college a little more. Social work seemed...
BC: You graduated when?
BC: Forty-one, and where did you go to the school of social work?
AS: St. Louis.
BC: Oh, at Washington University.
AS: Washington University, right.
AS: I applied to Columbia, they said I was too young. I thought ah...
BC: How old were you?
AS: It didn’t seem very young to me, but that was the way it was then. There was a lot of competition for those slots--you had to have worked a while.
BC: They wanted to be sure you were committed?
AS: They wanted to be sure you were committed and so forth. So I applied to George Warren Brown, because my professor had gone there. Not that I knew him very well, but I liked him, and he taught me a little about it.
So I went to graduate school there. I worked in St. Louis for three
years in a family agency. I worked for the Veterans' Administration,
I worked in Prince Georges County, Maryland for the County Welfare Board,
where I got a firsthand acquaintance with public welfare and child welfare.
That was 1948. I went to Hazleton, Pennsylvania, where I was executive
of the family and children's agency.
BC: So you were involved in private voluntary agencies and public welfare agencies along until about what? Where are we now? Probably around 1950?
AS: That was 1954. I ran a demonstration project for the Family Service Association of America, here in southern Ohio, actually. I wrote an article out of that. It had to do with families living in trailers where they were building the so?called Portsmouth Area Atomic Energy Plant. I wrote an article about families living in trailers that was indirectly responsible for my getting into the government. Then I went to a family agency outside of Washington. Bill [William W.] Mitchell who was Assistant Commissioner; Deputy Commissioner for the Social Security .... Do you know him?
BC: Yes--slightly, I think only after he retired. I met him and I know who you are talking about.
AS: He was involved in something about a family focus for Social Security and he called' or somebody called and asked if I would talk to him. He wanted to appoint an assistant who would organize how Social Security programs would be responsive to family needs. Probably, I think, because he had seen or someone had seen that article I referred to. So I took that job and that's how I got into government.
BC: I see. That really anticipated the second question here on my list in a way. I note that this was the Division of Policy Research in the Office of the Commissioner of Social Security.
AS: That's right.
BC: As I was reviewing these records the other day, I thought this is the first time I've really encountered this particular organization. Was it something new':' Did they...
AS: Oh, no, you were all a part...
BC: You were all a part o f policy research?
AS: The office, I'm not sure of the name, it changed a little, I'm not sure of what its name was then, but no, it was an important office in the Social Security Administration. It had been headed for a time by Isadore Falk.
BC: Oh, it was part of the Office of Research and Statistics(ORS), I see.
AS: Wilbur Cohen had worked in that office.
BC: Yes, oh yes. Well that makes sense, you see I ran into it and this was the only identification and I couldn't actually place it below the overall level. They were particularly interested this time in developing some family policies, I would guess,, because the ADC caseload had attracted a good deal of adverse attention.
AS: No, no that's not how it developed.
BC: All right, tell me how, that's why I came to see you.
AS: In fact, the office really opposed the idea, but Mitchell was interested. Mitchell was close to the people in the Family Life Bureau of the National Catholic Conference. They pressed him to do something and they had a couple of consultants, Reuben Hill and Emily Mudd, who studied the matter and recommended what consultants always recommend. "You want to hire somebody to do it," and, so Bill was determined to hire somebody. The office was mostly economists and this family focus, I think:, seemed like a rather soft set of ideas to them. I think they opposed it and...
BC: Who is they, could you . . . ?
AS: Ida Merriam in particular; Mitchell resolved that. I didn't know this before I came and it presented me with a certain amount of difficulty. Mitchell resolved the issue by settling it that somebody would be hired and would work in the Office of Research and Statistics or whatever it was called, and that was me. So I had this awkward line through Ida Merriam. But on the other hand Mitchell was really quite personally interested and he lent these ideas remarkable support.
BC: I want to back up ,just a moment here. Why do you think the Catholic Family Life Conference, (is that correct?), was so interested in putting this sort of thing into the program? Usually, often, they have been rather reluctant and wanting try hold on particularly where children are concerned.
AS: Well, I don't know. Subsequently when it became the issues about family planning and abortions and so on, they may have been very edgy about government involvement. But, you know there was very little about that kind of thing at the time, and I got to know the head of the Bureau, a man by the name of LeBlanc, Monsignor LeBlanc. I got to know him quite well and he was also very encouraging. No one knew exactly what it was that was to be done.
AS: But the question was how to strengthen families through social security. How can you do that in a program that really addresses individuals.
BC: Yes, that's correct. I have been very much struck by this, the fate of the article that you prepared calling attention to the title, copy of the draft "Problems in the AFDC Program." You wrote the article and I gather that Mitchell was interested and was interested in having it published, but there was great resistance, as In gather, in the Bureau of Public Assistance (BPA) which was then, well, Jay Roney was there but then Kathryn Goodwin, I sense, was the real Chief of that. Could you comment on that, do you remember that?
AS: Oh, I remember, that was really the first, well I got into the job and I got fingerprinted and I wrote a speech for Charlie Schottland, who was the Commissioner [of Social Security] and the question was what would I do. Nobody really knew and that was my first job, to figure out what I would do, and I decided.... You
know, of course, that the Social Security Administration administered ADC?
BC: Oh, yes.
AS: I decided that this was a family program and would bear some attention, and so I put to myself the question what does this do or say about families. I read everything that had been written about ADC, some rather extensive studies and I can't remember the name of the book, but there was a book about a nationwide study
BC: Blackwell and Gould, Future Citizens All?
AS: Yes, right, and ranging all the way from...
BC: You have quite a bibliography.
AS: Well, I read everything. I read everything, that I could lay my hands on and I seem to remember that there were 200 separate pieces all the way from 3-page things to books. I developed this set of ideas, talking all the time--I really was not an expert in ADC--talking all the time to anybody who would talk to me. I was a new kind of glamorous appointment and almost anybody would talk to me, mostly at lunch, to educate and lobby me, which was a void.
BC: Who? You mean around the Commissioner's Office?
AS: No, no, in the Bureau4 (BPA).
BC: In the Bureau, that is interesting.
AS: I was working on .... Who? Well, I was very friendly with Haskell Jacobs.
AS: Jules Berman, let me see whom I can remember??Dorothy West, the research people, Ellen Perkins, I'm not very good.
BC: Well that's all right, I just wanted to get some sense...
AS: As a matter of fact, years later I got my FBI files, just to see what the hell...
BC: Oh, yes, that's an interesting thing to do.
AS: And going through them they had interviewed a lot of people. They black out names, but, of course you can tell from internal evidence who they are, and Haskell Jacobs, I'm sure it was, told them that he (that is, I) had the most extensive luncheon list in the Department. I was in the business of what's going on, what can I learn, and so on. Well, I wrote that little paper and the Bureau went into an uproar. I was really naive about many things, including government, and I thought that's what the evidence says, we'll ,just have to check it out. Bill Mitchell sort of took a judicial position: you say this, they say that. So I cast about and I suggested: I will tell you what do, do you need advice, and I grant you that I am not much of an authority compared with all these people. Why don't we mimeograph the paper and send it to whoever there is who is really expert. That seemed reasonable to him. And so he did. I can't remember who they all were? One was...
BC: Well, I have a pretty good...
AS: Do you have a 1ist?
BC: Not a complete list, but I did--took extensive notes on this and the distribution of this paper, and, for example, one of the respondents was Wilber Cohen who was quite...
AS: Well, what did he say?
BC: Quite positive about it.
AS: Oh, no kidding.
BC: And I might, I'll xerox this letter and put it in the mail for you.
AS: I have forgotten, I really had forgotten.
BC: Of course, of course.
AS: Ellen Winston was a respondent and Richard Titmuss I remember. But anyway they were largely positive responses, and so he decided to press the Bureau. They wrote, maybe you have seen that .... They wrote a rejoinder that is longer than the paper I wrote and then we had a meeting in his office in which the people from the Bureau said things that were quite wrong. I was astonished.
BC: What for example?
AS: Well, one question was what percentage of women on ADC work? I had one percentage. And I think it was Kay Goodwin produced a totally different percentage. In the meeting I could not believe that she could be wrong, but she was wrong. After the meeting I went and checked. They were angry and mad, and you have to understand what upset them. Many things upset them. One thing that upset them was who is this guy who comes in from outside and all of a sudden he says that there are these problems that we have not discussed. Oh, that's one set of things. Another set of things that upset them was ADC, as you said, was already under pressure and they were afraid this would give fuel to the people who really wanted to cut back the program in one way or another. That was upsetting, and probably there were other things that were upsetting. Well, at that point I said to Bill, "I will publish it. What do you say to that?" There will be a note that says that this is a personal opinion, not in my official capacity. And he didn't see any objection to that. Throughout my time in the government I can't, there was very little that I...
BC: Oh, it was published elsewhere, now this I did not know.
AS: It was published in Social Work.
BC: In Social Work.
AS: I began with the idea that I would find same way to figure out rational things and then the government would do them. I was beginning to learn that that was not the way, and in fact at one point Mitchell said that to me quite directly. The way it had to be was to develop a constituency, and so on. I published it in the journal, when was that? It must have been about ‘60 or ‘61. I did have a long meeting with Mitchell outlining what I thought ought to be done legislatively, at the conclusion of which he said to me, very avuncular: I know all that, that's not the problem. The problem is if I send legislation like that up to the Hill, who will support us, who will say that it is right? How can we get such things enacted? So I learned that lesson, and I then set out to build a constituency.
BC: Did you stay in this job in the Department there, or did you...
AS: Well, I did other things on that job. I wrote a book about housing and, before that I did something on relations of adult children and their parents and what it implied about Social Security, to which the Social Security people did not react like the public assistance people. To them I was a little flea off in some corner someplace, they didn't care. But it also had an effect. And then I went to England for a year on a Fulbright, to study, with Richard Titmuss.
BC: I see, I didn't know you had studied...
AS: He was sort of my patron, I don't know, when was that? It was '62. I started on that job in '58, so I had been on it, for four years.
BC: I see. Could you make a few more comments about??I hate to put this in terms of personality??but I think you know what I mean by that, I don't mean how they look on TV, but the character; for example, I perceive that Goodwin was a very different sort a person than let's say Jane Hoey who, I don't know if you knew Hoey or not?
AS: No, not really.
BC: But in Goodwin's interview at, it is in the Columbia University Library, the Oral History Collection, she says, she makes this statement: "Miss Hoey was no administrator, I was Miss Hoey's administrator." Well, it depends, you know, on how you define the word, “administration”, and I actually have a perception that Miss Hoey was pretty good in the sense that FDR was quite good. People were always running around saying that he was no administrator, too. So I have that impression of her [Goodwin] in that sense but I don't really, she seems to me in the records a rather difficult person to pin down in the sense of how she exactly operated unless it was simply onto the memo and very little, let's say personal give and take or... AS: I can't say that I knew her, I didn't know Jane Hoey at all, so I really can't compare them. I didn't know Kay Goodwin very well. She was remote, I mean there were levels of people, the only way I could talk to people was at lunch, because there were levels. . .
BC: But you didn't have lunch with her?
AS: No, I did not have lunch with her.
BC: Well, that tells us something, doesn't it?
AS: Well, I think...
BC: In the sense that maybe she was far up there somewhere, but these other people you were having lunch with Mitchell.
AS: Well, no, no, in rank I was just as high as she, but she was very early, angry, and I wasn't going to be able to, you know with some of the other people who were angry at me a bit, well, the social service people, Grace Sell, Eunice Minton, and they thought I was terrible.
BC: Oh, I meant to ask you about those people because Minton later had so much to do with the drawing up of these regulations in the Welfare Administration and how the service amendments should be carried out and I would be very happy to hear you comment on, well, the way these people operated, so I can get a feel for these sorts of things.
AS: I thought the whole "to do" about social services was oversold and ultimately had a lot to do with the separation of income from services. People like Minton and Grace Bell thought I was 180 degrees wrong, but there was no personal animosity, so far as I know.
BC: Oh no, I meant it makes a great difference where your support is and people can't be well off to discuss things and on. But then again they could say I am never going to support that, and they are absolutely opposed to the idea and when they have some power, things tend to turn out differently, or they don't.
AS: I thought they were mistaken, I mean, going in, almost any social worker, I think, is inclined to think, yes, social services are a good thing, right? And we will sell social services. And I believed that for awhile and while I was not paying a whole lot of attention to it. I mean it wasn't the thing I was focusing on; after a while I did focus on it. There was a lot going on about it. We had sold it to Congress, it didn't seem to achieve much, then we said, I mean the Department and the agencies, said, "yes but, that's because there isn't enough, money in it," so Congress said, "All right, we'll put money into it." So they sweeten the matching arrangement and the public assistance caseload kept going up anyway, probably because Congress was liberalizing the ADC program while they were saying they didn't want to increase the caseload. But we plainly weren't delivering. What the people in social services were doing, was they would go out to Butte, Montana and come back with glowing stories about what was being done, or what was being accomplished. For example, I remember, for me a really unsettling experience in 1960 when the sit?in* movement started. I took myself away for two or three weeks to see what the hell this was about. I was a family life specialist, wasn't I, and I had been writing articles here and there explaining about the black family and the pampered black young man who grows up without discipline and unable to be disciplined and so forth and here were these 18 and 19 year old's conducting themselves with inordinate discipline. I thought, what the hell, I'm going to find out about that.
BC: Oh, you're discussing the civil rights movement now.
AS: The beginning of the sit-in movement.
BC: I thought for a moment you were talking about the welfare office demonstrations, I'm clear now exactly what you're saying.
AS: I'm really on...
BC: Yes, both, I know.
AS: As I went to Atlanta, Nashville, and someplace else, I remember in Atlanta, I thought I ought to visit the welfare office. I did and I found myself in a welfare office, a miserable, miserable place, beaten?up furniture, all black, everyone black. While I was there I had to go to the john and there was enormous embarrassment because in the first place, it was 1960 and I wasn't supposed to go to a black john. I was supposed to go to a white john. But they did not have one, and in the second place, they were embarrassed to have me see what it was. I sat in this office, everybody in it was black except me, talking to a woman who was explaining to me about social services and self?esteem and how this would restore self?esteem. I thought to myself, how could anything about this setup restore self?esteem to anybody? But this was social services???a kind of rhetoric that everybody had learned. Somewhere along the way we got a study done, the Bureau got a study done on social services in urban areas, that included six cities, I think.
BC: Six Cities, yes. I saw it and I may have it.
AS: That concluded??(gee, you're a terrific resource. Every now and then I try to tell somebody where to find such studies.) The report concluded that there were no social services. Congressmen are not dumb, you know. I would say, "What are you telling me? What has this talk about social services got too do with reality? What is this strategy?" Meanwhile, Congressmen are becoming convinced that we don't know what we are talking about. I mean, how in the long run does that serve our purposes? I wrote about that in one of my books, Explorations in Social Policy. So they [the social workers] were sold on that, and I think they operated .... The question was, I guess, "how did they operate?" They operated in a very anecdotal fashion cut of what they would describe as professional values and convictions. I accept that
description, but they were unreal and they were poor strategists.
BC: They were what?
AS: They were poor strategists, in the long run.
AS: In time, Congress turned against social services and went over to incentives, work programs, various forms of concern.
BC: I want to talk with you a little about the specific reorganization which took place, not the separation of services, but the organization of the Welfare Administration, which by the way was when I came into the Department into the Division of Research under Genevieve Carter. I came in 1964 shortly after that reorganization. And I can remember some of the atmosphere there. But I also interviewed Elizabeth Wickenden and I have also spoken to Wilbur Cohen abut this. They had somewhat similar and in some ways slightly different answers to the question but I think in the end it will all fit together, you know, one way or the other. But also the selection of Winston to head this and well, of course, Robert Ball's role in it, if you know anything about that; the sense of how it came about; whether it was a s Ellen said, (I've interviewed her) a push from the welfare side, from the public assistance side, which was her point of view for separation, or whether it was rather a push from Robert Ball's side when he was about to become Commissioner [7 Social Security] and didn't want this aspect of the program of the Act that he never had much dealing with.
AS: I was not there when they reorganized. I was in London. I got an occasional letter from somebody, from Ida Merriam perhaps, which implied to me, among other things, that I didn't know where I would be working when I got back. But I was reasonably cool about that, and so I really don't know. I am convinced that Ball did not want the ADC program in the Social Security Administration. I can't say that that is why it happened. But it is clear to me that he did not want it in his program.
BC: Well, 1et me put in another way. Can you remember your own reaction to this? In other words did you, not in your own terms of your personal future which you will find a root somewhere, but rather whether this would be a good or bad thing for the welfare side of the program.
AS: I honestly don't remember. I think I felt out of it and if I thought anything at all, I 'think I felt that it was a good time to be away, that there would be a lot of infighting, not much done that was of consequence to the outside world, and glad not to be a part of it. You know it is a classical dilemma I remember that from one thing or another.
BC: Oh, that's all right. You're not required to. Well, I suppose you were not there then when these various reports, study groups were involved. George Wyman is someone that... Was Wyman there when you were there earlier?
BC: What were the circumstances of his coming in? Do you remember that, was he there when you came?
AS: No, well, no, I was there when Schottland was Commissioner and...
BC: He[Wyman] had worked in California.
BC: In California, as a matter of fact he was Genevieve Carter's bass cut there in a private agency as I understand it, and then he was very briefly in Washington and went on, then didn't he, to become Commissioner of New York?
AS: That's right, but did he follow Schottland or Mitchell, or did he, I'm not sure. BC: Well, I don't think Wyman was ever Commissioner in Washington, he was...
AS: Or was he Deputy Commissioner?
BC: I think so, yes.
AS: Or maybe he was Mitchell's Deputy.
AS: So Mitchell became Commissioner and Wyman became Deputy but he can't have been there very long? Do you remember?
BC: Well, I don't think he was, I don't think he was there very long, but he did organize, there were actually three studies produced in connection with a potential reorganization or potential restructuring. One was headed up by George Wyman and it consisted of the usual thing. You send out a lot of questions to people then you bring the thing back in, and then you put it together. I have that. Then there were Elizabeth Wiclenden and Winifred Bell working up at Columbia.
AS: This was just pre-Kennedy, right. This is the connection.
AS: In connection with Kennedy.
BC: Well, yes, it did precede.
AS: Yes, I had something to do with that.
BC: Wickenden and Bell produced something called Public Welfare: Time for a Change, and then the third one was within the Department and that was a typical governmental, you know, if we have a reorganization, where will this function, go, where will that function go? There are questions and answers and so on, a very bureaucratic type of production. But I am very much interested, perhaps most interested in the Wickenden?Bell Report, if you know anything about that and also I think later on Bell worked, wasn't she with you at New York University?
AS: Oh, yes, that's right.
BC: I knew her slightly, when she was in charge of that demonstration program in the Welfare Administration, I knew her there.
AS: Now for a moment I am confused, because I don't know if there was one study or two, Wickenden ran a task force of which Wilbur Cohen was Chairman.
BC: No, that's different.
AS: That's something different.
BC: That's something different. That's something else. We'll get to that.
AS: All right, Pub1ic Welfare a Time for a Change and so on, I didn't have a whole lot to do with it, I wasn't...
BC: Well, maybe it also, maybe it took place at the time you were in London?
AS : That's possible.
BC: But one of the things about that report particularly is that it is full of anecdotal success stories.
AS: Well, yes, and so it was a lot of fantasy. There weren't going to be categorical programs. There was to be general assistance. It was to be non?categorical and social services for everyone, no indication of cost and it died (my recollection is off), BC: What died?
AS: The report. It was printed and sent around and the professional journals gave it a certain amount of attention, but then it ended. Isn't that correct?
BC: Well, the report though, went into the hopper along with these others, this is pre?Welfare Administration, you see, and it did go into the hopper, and I think it had a long?term influence in that at least it came out the same thing because on this "Having the Power, We Have the Duty," there was this council set up to report back to Congress when (I've forgotten haw many years were given). The creation was a part of the Welfare Administration authorization. They were supposed to report back and of course as this man at Brookings [Gilbert Steiner] says the same, people were always on these things, never anybody from the outside. Wickienden was on it and various other persons and that report said the same thing??we want services for everyone, we want general assistance, we want .... As a matter of fact this is where Wilbur Cohen was confused in that end of tape I had with him. I will straighten that out. But I remember Bob Lansdale saying to me on occasion going back to the earlier report that "Public Welfare: Time for a Change" that he never knew what all that was about. He couldn't make any sense of that particular thing. I have looked at it. It was certainly not anything approaching any sort of research. But Ellen Winston attended though, as a person trained in sociology, at a good place, Chicago. And when she testified on the new amendments she produced these anecdotes. She didn't talk about the Future Citizens All report. She said good things, all the good things, that were going to happen.
Let's talk a bit now, if you will, about the Welfare Administration. I am particularly interested in comments on Ellen Winston as you may have known her and also before and after her career there as Commissioner and her approach to these services and to the public welfare amendments of 1962 and the program in general.
AS: Well, I came back in September--I think--of 1963 and the Welfare Administration had been gotten under way in the time I was away. And when I came back I had the option of working in the Research Office of the Social Security Administration or in the Research Office of the new Welfare Administration, and so I went around and talked to Ellen about what kind of work she could see me doing and so forth and decided not to work in the Welfare Administration. To be frank I concluded that she would be a very tough person to work for ? very difficult. And...
BC: Could you explain?
AS: She asked me how I had gotten into this. I said something about how I had thought about going into journalism, and so on. And she said, she had found herself thrust into writing. She graduated very young in sociology and she took a job and somebody asked her to write something that was way over her head. I said that must have been hard for such a young woman. And she said, "Things are not hard for me; I make them hard for other people."
BC: [laughing] That's a scary experience.
AS: I thought, you know, what could be clearer. So I stayed on in the Social Security Administration. Not very long in fact. I went over to OEO soon afterwards. She did indeed heave the reputation of being very tough to work for.
AS: Driving, demanding, not understanding of difficulties or mistakes, or angry about mistakes. I had no problem with her. I was in another office and a colleague and we found ourselves from time to time working together or in parallel. I found her very easy... I found her easy to get along with but then I wasn't dependent on her in any way.
BC: I was struck even as I worked there with the strange sort of organization that she presided over. Let me be clear about this and see, whether you ever observed this or heard anyone else speak about it. She allowed separate personnel offices and separate information offices to continue in the Bureau of Family Services and in the Children's Bureau. I guess the Office of Aging, Juvenile Delinquency what were those other offices? And I know the Commissioner's Office Personnel, and I suppose Information were located in the Secretary's Office. Because that's where I got my... I was hired through the Secretary's Office. I think it's a canon of administration that you do not have, this is sort of like the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution you must get control of certain things in order to govern properly. And indeed when Mary Switzer took over, and I am not commenting now on her personally, that was immediately changed. There was one Personnel Office for the Social and Rehabilitation Service and one Office of Public Affairs, or whatever they called it. Now, I think, there was some feeling there, perhaps you can't comment on this? Winston was there and she felt that she head to allow the Children's Bureau, for example, which has been a long time independent agency to go on, sort of in an independent way. But Mary Switzer didn't feel that way when she came in. She presided over the dissemination of the Children's Bureau, too.
AS: Well, I wasn't involved in it. So I just speculate.
BC: You didn't have any perceptions about the way things were going there.
AS: I really don't know. I would say that these were all duchies, that they fought tooth and nail for their independence, or relative independence, and I would be sure that she would have wanted to bring those offices together. She may not have been
able to, and Switzer took over at a different time. Switzer was, of course, tough, but Ellen Winston was tough. The whole push at the point at which Switzer took over, from the Secretary's Office down and in a rather sophisticated way, was to move authority up. Switzer, I am sure, had much more support from the Secretary's Office in that particular kind of endeavor than Winston would have had.
BC: Yes, I think of course that Winston, Wilbur Cohen was there during Winston's time and I mentioned this to him and he said, "Well of course I always saw her in a different light. She was reporting to me and so on," and he didn't... but Elizabeth
Wickenden was aware of it. And she was worried by it. When I talked with her, she said, at the time. Because she had been a prime supporter of Winston as a choice for this job and she said she used to ask, you know, "When are you going to put this, that or the other together," and Ellen would say, "Well, I have to give it time" or "I have to take care of this now." Now another instance of this is the case of Kathryn Goodwin and this came from Genevieve Carter who said she wondered why Ellen had appointed her for some staff job for this Council that was to make the report on the amendments and recommendations for the future, and so on. But, of course, she said that was Winston's theory and she felt that she was using someone who had been around too long to put it as we discussed before. But that was done also.
AS: Well if Wicky discussed it with her then she has the most reliable...
BC: Yes. Boat she was ,just, yes, sort of put aside and, of course, she had no authority to really press her. But maybe we should move on. When did you come back into the Department? When was that that you were up there on the 5th floor?
AS: Well no, where the devil was I?
BC: We were on the 4th floor for awhile and then we moved to the South Building. It seems to me...
AS: I was on the ground floor in the beginning. When I came back I think I was in the National Press Building. We had overflow offices of that division in the National Press Building and we were there for awhile.
BC: You mean immediately when you returned.
AS: In '63.
BC: In '63. And well then you...
AS: Then, we may have been moved back to the North Building. I don't really recall that we were. I went over, it must have been about ‘64 or ‘65, to OEO.
BC: Yes. I think: it was after that.
AS: I came back: in '66. Then I was on the 5th floor, yes.
BC: Yes, that's when I remember you, at that point. You see I was, as I say I came in '64 so you probably were, and it was only shortly thereafter that OEO was organized and some of our people that were in the Division of Research went to OEO. Oliver Moles went for example, and I know that there was some concern. But then you came back...
AS: In '65. It must have been.
BC: That soon. That's interesting.
AS: Or '66.
BC: What was your job at OEO?
AS: I was Director of Research, and then Director of Research and Planning in the Director's Office.
BC: I see.
AS: Or in the Office of Research Planning...
AS: Sarge Shriver. Well there was an office within his Office of Research, Planning, Evaluation and another "E" – energy? - headed by Joe Kershaw and I was Director of Research and Planning.
BC: That's interesting. Well, then you came back and worked...
AS: I was Deputy Assistant Secretary to Lisle Carter who had some other job in OEO. I don't remember what his title was but he came back as Assistant Secretary for Income Maintenance and Social Services something like that and he asked me to be his Deputy. So I went back then as Deputy Assistant Secretary. A hectic couple of years.
BC: So would you talk a little bit about the hectic years.
AS: Well now we were for one thing engaged ...the Secretary you know was John Gardner.
BC: Yes, by then he was. Celebreeze had left...
AS: And he (Gardner) was engaged in reorganiing the Department. He had a fellow by the name of Walter Corsou, a consultant was working on reorganization for him. And Gardner was trying to take hold of the Department. He found himself with so many, Commissioners who were all in charge.
BC: It was a very loose federation then.
AS: It was a loose federation.
BC: For good or ill, that was the case.
AS: For good or ill; but something depends on the Secretary I mean. All of that would not have troubled Wilbur Cohen very much. He knew the Department from inside and would have moved it around but Gardner basically knew education, and not the other parts of the Department. He found commissioners running their own shows. Setting out to reorganize, he introduced a level of Assistant Secretaries. There head been a couple of Assistant Secretaries, but he added Assistant Secretaries and he transformed their jobs. The Assistant Secretaries had been staff jobs. He gave them a measure of administrative responsibility??still not entirely clear. What the commissioners... How much room the Commissioners had depended on their contacts with Congress and with constituency groups and so on. But authority and power was being driven upwards. And in a way that's what we worked on, Lisle and I, and there were some other people in the office.
Relevant to this issue of development of welfare?-one of the things we worked on was the division of income from social services?.?the separation of income from social services. It fitted, it fitted ? now this is just my evaluation ?it was sound on its merits, we thought, but it also fitted the agenda of reorganization in a way that would give the Secretary or the Assistant Secretaries more direct control. And so we got up a little task force, on which if I am not mistaken Eunice Minton served but she didn't participate. She listened. We talked about this issue of what social services were being rendered and whether they should be separated from the delivery of income. This was also in the context now of the civil rights movement...
AS: The welfare rights movement, tide hostility of the welfare rights people to social workers, the agitation of people who were entitled to assistance, or low percentages of presumably entitled people receiving assistance and so on. We drafted a recommendation to separate income and services. By the way, NASW
and APWA were involved early in the process--but they really did not find much to say about it. I think they didn't take it seriously. Harold Hagen represented APWA, I remember.
BC: That's APW...
AS: I'm trying to remember who came... NASW. We met with them. We said what do you think about this but they found very little to say. They would report back and let us hear. They had a kind of bureaucratic problem...
BC: There was also, as I recall, at this time .... Some of the social work professionals were raising questions about this tie--if you expect to get this money you must accept that service, and so forth. That got into the literature at the time, whether it was prompted by the civil rights movement or whatever. This is something that is a pretty long tradition in social work in general about which I know something. You take the private agencies and well you say the creaming, and Mary Richmond--I ran across something that, I guess it was something that Muriel Pumphrey wrote--and Mary Richmond insisted if under certain conditions the woman refused to put the man out completely let's say the alcoholic she was not going to get any of this nice little money to take care of the kids. So there is that in the background of some of this which is very interesting.
AS: It was present absolutely. There was a study done at the University of California. At least part of its title was “The View From Below” in which they asked recipients questions like, "Do you have a right to keep people out of your apartment? Do you have a constitutional right?" And people would say, "yes" and then they would ask, "What about a welfare worker, do you have the right to keep a welfare worker out of your apartment?" and the answer was "no." And it was very clear in the study that people felt they sewed these welfare people some find of responsibility to do what they said. I remember that study. Then there was the reverse issue, which was that by now we were sure that very little was being delivered in the way of social services. That much seemed clear. And, in fact, as a statistical matter, they were now defining a social service as any agency contact in which a child was involved, so every application for assistance was a social service. Every interview was a social service.
BC: At 75 percent.
AS: At 75 percent. It was preposterous, you know. It seemed to us that if the functions were separated one would be able to know what was delivered in the way of social service and maybe get it delivered, or examine why it was not being delivered. All of these agendas, there were lots of agendas going, but all these agendas fitted together. What did not fit together as it turned out was the Congressional agenda. I mean Congress blessed this separation, but they charged cheerfully ahead writing essentially social service requirements into new public assistance legislation. So you had to have an evaluation of capacity to work, and training; people had to be advised about family planning, and strengthening their families. That was one of the problems for separation. At any rate we were very busy with that. We were busy with??what were we busy with? This was the period in which the cities went up in flames. I don't say it even now without shuddering. I remember standing in the window smelling Washington burning.
BC: I was in Italy when the riot took place.
AS: It was a terrible time.
BC: But earlier than that we saw some of the demonstrations with George Wiley and the welfare mothers. I was struck by Russell Long and I have sort of been glancing at some of Moynihan's books. I've read them, of course, as they have come forth, and I have been following his latest initiative, as I'm sure you have with some interest. But the invasion of that hearing room was, I think, quite a turning point in a lot of the Congressional action.
AS: We were busy. This was now Johnson. We thought that these people, blacks and so on, were our clients, and we were busy trying to figure out some ways to get things done for them. That's really why the Detroit riots in particular came as a shock because Detroit was the showplace, or was to be the showplace. The people who had worked on these matters were very sad. Well now...
BC: Well you know the old rule it's when things get a little better...
AS: Well, I remember a meeting with Hubert Humphrey when he was Chairman
of the Economic Advisory Council right after the riots. Some young man
in the room said: “There are people who say that we are responsible;
we raised expectations.” Humphrey came down on him like that.
I thought Humphrey was depressed, a lot of people were showing what
seemed to me like depression. Anyway we were busy with desegregation.
For some reason I got involved, I'd been on a tour of Mississippi. I
learned that in the Mississippi Welfare Department they did not call
blacks Mister, or Miss or Mrs. They were still Tom...
BC: Tom and Joe.
AS: I was incensed. I came back to Washington determined that if there was one thing left that I was going to get done, I was going to change that in Mississippi. I spent more time than I should have trying to get that changed--not successfully in the time that I was there.
BC: I remember Mary Switzer talking about that as a matter of fact. That these courtesy titles were not used. It made an impression on her. It wouldn't have on Ellen Winston because she grew up with it.
AS: I visited a man in Mississippi, his name was Williams, I don't remember his first name--black man who had six or eight kids. The whole shack was as large as this room. Just mainly beds with the kids crawling around on the beds. The man had an arm amputated at the elbow; he had leukemia; he wasn't going to live long. A little man. And he had filed suit against the state of Mississippi. They had cut him off APTD ? $50 a month, and I think the Legal Defense Fund had filed a suit for him based on due process. The state hadn't given him due notice, I'd been in Mississippi a couple of days and I head a sense of what was involved and I said to him, "where do you get the guts to file suit against the state of Mississippi?" And he looked at me and he got a thin little smile on his lips and he said, "I don't know. But I can tell you this--when I go to the office now they call me Mister." I'm very big on never mind the abstractions?let's first see that they get food and clothing, but I felt that if it could matter to him it could matter to me. Anyway then we had a Poor People's Campaign and we conducted--I was in charge of the Poor People's Campaign--the response to the Poor People Campaign.
AS: And we did an enormous amount of work with every agency about what is it that maybe ought to be altered in light of the sort of things that these people were asking for. And there were a lot of things. One of them I got back to long, long afterward. One of the things that they asked for and that we promised was there would be a. . . that if somebody applied for AFDC and was found entitled, payment would be made retroactive to the date of application. We promised that we would do that and the agency started to write regulations; then Nixon was elected and the whole thing was dropped. When Carter was elected, years afterward, I got a letter from Califano ? there must have been hundreds of these letters asking: What do you think we ought to do by way of welfare reform? And, in particular, is there anything we can do ourselves, administratively without a lot of process, without legislation. Tell us what that is. So I wrote to him and I said, why don't you pay AFDC retroactive to the date f entitlement. You were in the White House when we promised that. I was at HEW and Don Wortman, who is now acting Commissioner of Social Security, was at OEO. We were all in the administration when that was promised, and why don't you do it? There was a good deal of consideration, but in the end they didn't do it. They still haven't done it. BC: I wanted to get us through at least the first welfare reform episode by which I mean in the sense of guaranteed income, negative income tax, the first Moynihan proposal. He, as I say, I was glancing through his Politics of a Guaranteed Income. He makes a lot of the social science research and I think it is interesting but actually I don't think it had the impact that he seems to think it did.
AS: What, social science research?
BC: Yes, across the board. I don't think that it was quite important as he does. I think rather that the time had come to a lot of people for a face??off, for a big change in welfare ? the approach to welfare in terms of AFDC and, but you tell me what you think because that is why I am here, to be corrected as to how that really got going. The negative income tax ?? I remember at the Welfare Administration I remember Ellen Winston with Gen Carter one day. She was asking Gen whether she had done anything. I think she said to counter what these people were saying, like Theobald and so on. Now that was her early attitude toward it and then, of course, I was there at SRS through John Twiname after Switzer had gone when Twiname said: it was going to pass?-you t know the second round???and when all these people had been moved out to Prince Georges County ?? I guess to get them out of the way of contamination from what ? I don't know but, then I was also there when Dwight came in and he moved them back. So I have, on the other hand we were not working on this at all. This had been taken completely oust of the hands of any research within SRS.
AS: Well, the welfare people were regarded as the enemy. Well, I know a lot about that.
BC: Yes, well let's hear some of it. Have you written some of it? Maybe I could pick up, I didn't --the book you mentioned earlier that has some of these...
AS: The new book. . .
BC: Not the new book, the one you mentioned earlier.
AS: That was "Explorations in Social Policy," it was before that period. Well in the first place we worked on it in OEO. In that office of OPPRE or whatever.
BC: Planning, Research and Evaluation.
AS: Yeah, there were several economists who came in thinking negative income tax. There had developed a sort of ...under Bob Lampman at Wisconsin and James Tobin. James Tobin and I did a little debate in The Public _Interest in 1967. They came in with this idea in their heads and again, as maybe always, there were lots of agendas. One agenda was a generalized hostility to social workers who had been in charge and from this point of view had failed to do what they should have done or anything useful. Another kind of agenda was anti?bureaucratic. The newspapers, in particular The Washington Post and The New York Times, saw something unreasonable in the then current system and wanted to bust through it? I always thought that???this is on a different scale??that a part of the agenda was: if you think about the whole thing you have to think about Social Security and unemployment insurance and welfare. The new people who were
coming in didn't know all that stuff. And they didn't want to have to learn it ? it seemed to me. In OEO I conducted a small struggle. Do you remember that OEO was responsible not only for the programs it ran but, in the President's Office, was
responsible for coordinating all programs in the government relevant to poor people.
BC: I did not.
AS: My position in that Office of Planning was: for God's sake do you know what we can do with Social Security? Do you realize what's happening with Social Security? They're now going over to percentage increases which benefit the people at the top more. Do you know what a 1%--this was before automatic cost-of-living adjustments–do you know what a 1% change in the way they adjust benefits means? There was not much interest. The effect that when there was a meeting of the Council of Economic Advisors for example, I would find myself representing the Agency because nobody else in OEO really cared. There was one meeting at which Wilbur was representing the Department and I was representing the Agency and we were arguing on opposite sides. So I thought that lack of expertise and interest in income transfers as a whole was a factor. Now the people in OEO set out very skillfully to promote this idea of negative income tax, which did not have much currency. I mean, there were a hundred economists in the country who understood it and wrote about it and not many others who understood. And so we did a number of things. We staged the experiments in Princeton...
BC: In New Jersey.
AS: And other places. I thought the ulterior motive was to establish the legitimacy of the idea. Of course, nobody would say that in so many words, although Walter Williams much later did an article somewhere in which he said it. I thought that was fine. I wanted also to demonstrate a children's allowance. My immediate conclusion from the work I had done on AFDC was to look for changes in AFDC. But within a matter of 6, or 8, or 10 months, I concluded that the problem wasn't going to be solved that way and we needed a children's allowance. So in OEO I wanted to do one study on negative income tax and one study on the children's allowance. Not much interest. Anyway we got those things under way and I came back to HEW. Now, one of the things that OEO promoted ...they figured that anybody had to see the possibility that Johnson was going to lose or wasn't going to run and Humphrey was going to lose and there would be a Republican Administration and the whole set of ideas would die. So one of the things that OEO promoted was that the President should appoint a Commission on Income Maintenance Reform, something like that. And at HEW we supported it. The Department did, Lisle in particular did, after thinking about it a little bit and wondering about how it would turn out. But we thought it might do some good. There had been a lot of work in trying to get Johnson to do something useful about AFDC but Johnson did not understand public assistance, for all his compassion. He was rooted in the FDR years and he would do a 1ot, but not about public assistance or AFDC in particular...I wrote more than one speech on public assistance for Johnson, on the possibility that he would deliver it, but he wouldn't. Never. And so if it wasn't going to get done that way, maybe a commission. So now there was a commission headed by Ben Heineman you remember?
AS: And then we lobbied them. By this time I think I was out of the government. We lobbied them, but they head really pre?judged the whole thing.
BC: No one I think, took that seriously in the sense that I think there was a general feeling that there probably since Johnson by that time had announced that he wasn't going to run that this was going to be picked up by whomever and it wouldn't really I guess we all thought that the Republicans might win. But even if they did that even, if a Democrat won there would be a new Commission so that somehow or another it wouldn't pan out.
AS: Well they came to the conclusion and they recommended a negative income to but that was another government and now there was a new government and for awhile it wasn't clear how much attention they would pay. Now Moynihan was in the White House. Moynihan had been a proponent of the children's allowance and I was hopeful about that. Now I Was Outside of the government and there were people in OEO who were interested in the children's allowance, not in the office I had been in, in a different office and I worked out with them a proposal for testing a children's allowance analogous to what they were doing with a negative income tax. Somewhere along the way Moynihan issued a memorandum killing the idea. It was a kind of "we don't want competing ideas emerging from the government or something like that." I can't remember the language exactly but something like that. I talked with him about it a couple of times. At one point I became aware that the Research and Planning Office in HEW had been asked to work on a $2 billion negative income tax, and I said to him in the first place you weren't for it. I had talked to him about a children's allowance when he was Assistant Secretary of Labor. But now it had to go, and I think the reason...
AS: A memo was published in The Wall Street Journal in which Moynihan says to Nixon, "there have been no domestic initiatives." (This is facing another election.) "There have been no domestic initiatives and money is going rapidly, and, unless you announce a domestic initiative now, you are going into the next campaign without having a single one and the only one that is ready to go is a negative income tax." I believe that was the reason. That was the reason. Contrary to his own personal views many years before, maybe he had changed, but I think it was a practical, political judgment that we have to do something, and this is the one that looks new, sounds new, and is ready. So I think that is why...
BC: How about the course of events and the positions that various persons .... What was your view, granted you would have preferred to have, perhaps, seen children's allowances studied or even adopted as the alternate way? Once this was on this course, I believe you thought it had some possibilities to begin with or not opposed it from the beginning.
AS: Well, in the beginning, I took sort of a cautious .... I wonder what's in it, and so forth. But I did a paper for the National Conference on Social Welfare with a title like "The President's Welfare Reform," in which I opposed it and said it would come to no good end. Wilbur Cohen, when he was Secretary, testified before the Heineman Commission and I went over with him. And in the limousine on the way there, I tried to persuade him to make a pitch for children's allowances and against negative income tax. And Wilbur, I don't remember exactly... he was equivocal. I was against it. I debated Milton Friedman for the, I think that was also before the Heineman Commission.
BC: What, why were you...
AS: I think, fundamentally, I thought it was a means?tested program different only in rhetoric from public assistance, and that it would not turn out; that the course the country had to go was a different course . . . . . Right now, in the face of what's going on in health care ...., I have just read an article about what we need to do: we need to reform health care, we need to have one unified program of health care for poor people. It's the same issue as I understand what's fundamental to the program design.
BC: Which is...
AS: The basic approach is through income testing??through large-scale income testing, which I am opposed to. Another way of saying it is that “a means?tested program is a mean program.”
BC: I suppose that others would say that you have got to make a beginning. I think this was perhaps Wilbur Cohen's attitude, that you build on and try to make it better.
AS: Others do say that, and I don't think that's in principle wrong. I think you have to know what a beginning is and in that early paper that I did about the President's welfare reform, I went into that. If this is a beginning, then what is the next step? And, if you expect to do better than this, some of the analysis is just arithmetic. The way the program is designed, if you do better than this, then you are dealing with people who have median income. I took the Heineman Commission report when it was done and, in it, they say this is the first step, but we should be going to the poverty level as a minimum guarantee. I showed that if we went to the poverty level as a minimum guarantee, we would have 40% of the population getting negative income tax. You know that's not going to happen. Congress is not going to do that. So, you have to know what a beginning is.
BC: I wanted to get some of this argument on the tape because I think often people's comments are .... In the first place, they don't read all the articles that are behind them and all the explanations. I think it is important to have these views down because, here we are again, now, where Moynihan has some plans, and I guess it was day before yesterday, but he is on a different tack this time, very definitely. We also have day before yesterday's [New York] Times, the Ways and Means Committee has now voted out..., what is it? It is their plan, isn't it? It's not the Administration's plan.
AS: That's the Democratic leadership plan.
BC: So we are in it again. One program we haven't discussed, here, and you may wish to comment on, is the WIN program. Because going back to your paper that was not published by the Social Security Bulletin I was reading that recently about the problems that you wrote when you first landed in the Secretary's office, "The Problems in AFDC."
BC: What was outstanding to me was your emphasis on the work matter, the family break?up was there, and perhaps only because it got somewhat more attention, and then WIN afterwards. That's one thing. The other thing, if I may go back to that, was the absence of any reference in the paper to child support enforcement, which then had already become an issue with NOLEO, and people like Jules Berman were in the Department and interested in it, and so on. So we might talk about both of these things a little bit in the context of what happened later with the WIN program and also the child support enforcement.
AS: Just in passing, I had forgotten. I meant to have it published in the Social Security Bulletin, and they would not, is that so?
AS: I'd forgotten that.
BC: Oh, yes. Well, it's not "they." Goodwin opposed it, down to the wire, and finally Mitchell wrote back and said that he would not do this in view of the Bureau's objections. However, he wanted it clearly understood that this was the end of any further defensive reaction to criticisms of the AFDC program.
AS: Oh, really. I don't think I ever saw that memo, and I had forgotten that we wanted it published in the Bulletin.
BC: Oh, yes, that was what all the back and forth and all the meetings were about. AS: And so, when he said "all right" with a disclaimer, that was kind of a compromise. I was perfectly satisfied. It didn't have to be the Bulletin. More people read the Journal than the [Social Work] Journal than the [Social Security] Bulletin.
BC: Well, yes, but I think they were right, but that was the official stamp and that's what they were objecting to. When it came down to it, this is what Goodwin said. It's not that we think everything is wrong, we agree with most..., we've thought about most of this for years, but we don't think that the Department, that the Government, should say such things about an official program of its own.
AS: That's fair enough. I had forgotten. Well, all right. A lot of emphasis in that article on work, that's right. And it is a terrible dilemma. And I guess one of the things that I thought there ought to be is an incentive for work which in time was written into the program. What do I think about the WIN program now, and the push to welfare reform?
BC: Well, how did you think about the one that was initially drafted there in...
AS: The 1967 Amendments, I conducted an all?out fight against them. I absolutely did. That's one of the things that went on in that period. I thought it was terrible. That was really Wilbur Mills deciding that the social workers hadn't delivered and that he was going to get something done some other way, and Wilbur Cohen was 100% with him, at least so far as I could make out. I talked to Wilbur about it, but there was nowhere to get. I mean it really was not a technical audience. It was something that Cohen was committed to with Mills. This was the track they were on. I was opposed to it. That was the only time that I can recall that I used a straight bureaucratic device to interfere. The legislation would come over, and as the thing went, it would get sent to Ellen Winston, the Commissioner, to comment on.
BC: This is Switzer now.
AS: ‘67 must have been Winston. Was it Switzer? All right, it would get to Switzer to comment on...
BC: Who was, of course, very much .... I mean it fitted in with her whole philosophy of life, from the beginning.
AS: She would write a comment and then it would come to Lisle, [Carter] who would give it to me to write a comment on and send it to the Secretary. So we went through that once, and I wrote a long memorandum explaining why this was a poor idea and so forth and signed it. And then it became clear to me that this was not going to go anywhere. And now we had redrafted legislation, it went to Switzer, to Carter, and to me. It is the only time in my life that I've done this. I stuck it in the bottom of an "In Box" which was piled high, and after three or four days, Secretary Cohen's secretary called, and my secretary said that Mr. Schorr said that it's on its way. I don't know what I thought I was doing. Anything for a good cause. After eight or ten days, his secretary turned up in my office and said, "the Secretary wants that, with, or without your signature."
BC: Well, I'll tell you, the WIN Program as written originally and carried out for not very long had a lot of training components. There's a great deal that's in this new thing, as I read it in the paper that sounds exactly like WIN in that it's certainly very different from what Reagan thinks of as workfare where you work out your assistance grant. It had the thirty and a third, but it also had a training component, a very strong training component, which I thought was helpful. It didn't retain that very long. And the, of course, at the same time they put this ceiling on... they attempted to cap AFDC. That was another thing that was in there. That was Mills very definitely. AS: One question is, what are they training these women for? I mean, as you point out in this article, it is very clear to me that if a woman wants to work, that it ought to be made remunerative. I have no problem with that. However, there were all sorts of places in the United States where there are no jobs of any sort. There are places where there are jobs for particular kinds of people but the training was other kinds of training. And, then, another consideration is the difference between what you send over and what you think the legislation is going to be. I mean, you have to think ahead because what you send over develops a life of its own and the legislation gets converted and you don't want to start that process if you know what the chances are or if it's going to happen. Another consideration is what has come to be called (I'll give you a paper I've just done for the Michigan Welfare League) what has come to be called "churning." If workers are going to put people off for one reason or another, these WIN programs offer them the most excellent opportunity. After the bill was passed, I spent full?time for the next two or three weeks (probably not entirely proper) trying to get the President to veto it because I thought it was a disaster. In retrospect, I think it was. I think these bills that are floating around are just as bad, or worse because now the government has no money.
BC: It floundered rather quickly on the money issue anyway. I wrote an article on the WIN program for the Social and Rehabilitation Record. We had done some research interviewing AFDC women on health and so on, and I picked this up. It was all this thing about the women's health. In addition to that, what I said was the situation with men working and women working was very very different. When you get into this lower class, lower lower class, so many of these men they say, "these men, they work, they are the same, they have the same sort of education." The men, a lot of them, are in unionized jobs. It's true that they only got to the sixth grade, but the women are charladies or words to that effect. The thing becomes extremely expensive regardless, because you pay for daycare and all these other things. I ended up by saying this has nothing to do with what you think of the work ethic or inspiring these people for this, and that, and the other. The economics of it for women doesn't turn out the same way as it does for men. And, if you are willing to stick with it, and you have a younger group now in the AFDC population.
AS: I think people, volunteers, voluntary training at work should be given all the support, that kind of thing ....
BC: How about child support enforcement? We kind of sidetracked that.
AS: Child support enforcement was the other thing. I was not keen about child support enforcement. I got into it sort of sideways later on. In the AFDC article, it just really didn't come up for me. Did I mention it?
BC: No. That's why I was reading this the other day. I thought, well, this is very much in the wind at the time you were writing this and I wondered why it wasn't mentioned, because Jules Berman, for one thing, was very much into this. He had been sent out and he .... Well, I'11 tell you how it came about. The Governors Conference or Association or whatever they called it at that time, Frank Lane was with it for many years, they had had some legislation out, there was of course that NOLEO, but in addition to that, they wanted to get into it more, and they were drawing up legislation into what became the reciprocal agreements between the States and that sort of thing. These things were coming into the Department for comment and Berman was answering them and he was going to their conferences and in addition to that the American Public Welfare Association was interested and they were getting these pieces of legislation in, so it was very much in the air in addition, and I know that it goes back as far as Hoey was concerned. She said that well, the people didn't have anything anyway. That was the attitude, and then I said there was another attitude that comes out in the correspondence on the part of the social workers that we're going to reunite the family and the minute you tell this man he has to support his children you endanger this delicate situation. There is a good bit of that.
AS: Well, I got into it sideways. Because after I did AFDC, I did this thing about adult children and their parents, and I spent some time on suits for support of aged parents by children. And I wrote it up in the pamphlet. I remember Karl de Schweinitz when he was Commissioner of Welfare in Pennsylvania or something like that, 50 years ago, dealing with the legislative committee that wanted to pass an act about children supporting their aged parents. He said to them, "Why dc, you pass legislation that we can't enforce, and that you don't want us to enforce?" That was an expression of what I learned about this legislation. It was applied only to poor people. It was not applied to people who were better off, possibly partly because children who are better off have parents that are better off and don't need it. But in any case, in the second place, it didn't produce much in the way of income. What it did produce was that the aged parents wouldn't apply because they didn't want the county or state to go after the kids who would get mad at them. They were much more worried about that than about the support. And, I had for a long time much the same feeling about child support with respect to separated women and their children. I think, again, that the agencies tended to ask more in the way of support than courts would have given. These are largely people who do not have legal representation and who don't know how to get it. I did, if not in that article, scan afterwards, argue what agencies have since done, what the government has since done, that the government should collect the support and pay AFDC. You remember that it was the other way around. Not long ago, two or three years, ago, Public Welfare published a, it seems to me, a plainly self-serving article by somebody doing a cost?benefit analysis of child support to which I replied in a long letter. It was full of unfounded statements. I replied to that. I am not enthusiastic about child support. I think people ought to support, fathers in particular, ought to support .... I think by somebody you mentioned a little while ago, that most of the people for whom support is being secured have very little money themselves. They have new families. And it sort of spread into .... I have not much enthusiasm.
BC: Well, that's a point of view which I was anxious to get from you. These are the issues. Is there anything you would like to pontificate on?
AS: I don't think so. It's been very, very interesting to talk about these old times.