An Interesting Data Point on Sea Org Headcount and Revenue

Sea Org executives back in the good ol' (or at least more numerous) days

Sea Org executives back in the good ol’ (or at least more numerous) days. Why do their hats look just a bit too large for their heads, in yet another parallel to the North Korean military?

In a video posted Sunday on Tony Ortega’s site, recently escaped Sea Org member Jillian Schlesinger talked about her time in the cult.  Jillian related several data points that are of interest, including David Miscavige’s claim that RTC is reaping $75 million per year in revenue from Flag in Clearwater.

Here, we look at a few of the things Jillian said, and we look at what this might mean for the cult.  Throughout, I share some analytical techniques I’m using to evaluate some of the things Jillian said when they either confirm or contradict my current best guesses. These thoughts may help you to do a better job in your own analysis.

Perhaps the most interesting quote from Jillian’s video was something Scientology leader David Miscavige said to the assembled Sea Org troops in LA:

There was an analysis done some months ago, probably about six months ago now. And he [David Miscavige] had revealed that in Florida, there’s about 2,000 Sea Org members, and they send up $1.5 million a week to him. Then, looking in all of LA, there’s about 2,000 Sea Org members, and they were not sending up that much to him every week. So, he wanted a huge rearrangement of staff, and then to make a, in-house, out-of-Sea-Org-member, construction unit, so that we could save money doing it ourselves, even though we have no training in construction, and then we don’t have to hire anyone. And then I was doing that for about the last six months.

How Many Sea Org Are There, Really?

This quote from COB is interesting in two respects.  First, of course, Miscavige is saying that there are at least 4,000 Sea Org members in the US, approximately evenly distributed on both coasts.  And he’s claiming that he’s getting $75 million per year from Flag and a lesser amount from the Western US.  My estimates are that the real number from Flag is closer to $30 million per year these days, perhaps a bit less, and that they’re probably getting $10 million from the higher level orgs on the West Coast (it’s not an international destination for people coming in for advanced training like Flag is).  And based on some correspondence late last year with a couple Anons in the Clearwater area, it appears that some of the cult-owned apartment buildings used to house Flag workers are sitting empty.

So how does a careful analyst think about the disparity between previous estimates and the new data point?  This is one of the trickier analytical traps: it’s dangerous to discount new information when it doesn’t fit your biases, but it’s equally dangerous to believe implicitly that a newer data point means your prior thinking is wrong.  If the new information is correct, it would mean that my estimates of about $180 million in cult revenue in 2013 were low by an integer multiple — the cult could have been raking in $400 or $500 million a year; that’s a major error.  Intellectual honesty, essential for a good analyst, means we have to look at a surprising new data point with a willingness to consider honestly the possibility that we’re way off in our numbers.

The first thing to do in teasing apart this information is to consider the credibility of the source.  It’s probably reasonable to believe that someone emerging from the Sea Org only a couple weeks ago and re-adjusting to reality is not going to have the spare time to fabricate a story like this out of whole cloth. It is thus reasonable to believe she’s recounting accurately what she heard.  The question then becomes whether Miscavige’s numbers are credible.

First Cross-Check: Direct Observation

In looking at the claim of 4,000 Sea Org members, it’s important to cross-check this against other data that we have.  In evaluating the number of Sea Org members in LA, let’s start with easily observable data points.  One such is the level of foot traffic at L. Ron Hubbard Way in LA.  A recent afternoon stroll down the sacred street showed only two people (one a security guard), in front of the building, and two RPF girls on the back side on Catalina St.  No Sea Org was visible.  The parking lot, which holds approximately 200 cars (I counted from the aerial Google Maps view) was only slightly more than half full; even assuming that few Sea Org have cars, that’s a pretty light occupancy load.  These observations are enough to raise suspicions about Miscavige’s credibility, but they’re not conclusive: given the tight constraints on their work schedules, it’s reasonable to expect that one wouldn’t see too many of the Sea Org types out on the sidewalk during nose-to-the-grindstone hours.

Second Cross-Check: Independent Rules of Thumb

The next step is to cross check the claim against another independent metric, one that has nothing to do with the first set of observations.  In other words, you want to look at an independent measure.  It’s often useful to consider real estate square foot per staff member.  I would estimate that the 11 floors (+/-) of the original Big Blue building total about 125,000 square feet, and the rest of the complex is similar sized — call it 250,000 feet total.  While I haven’t done a complete count of the rest of the cult properties in the area, let’s assume another 100,000 square feet.  Let’s then assume that the hypothetical 2,000 Sea Org members are joined by about 1,000 other staff.

If you do the math, that implies there are about 120 square feet of facilities per person, slightly larger than a 10 by 10 foot office.  But that’s quite a bit lower than conventional estimates of office space per capita, which is currently typically about 250 square feet per employee. That’s including conference room facilities, restrooms, and all sorts of other stuff.  Incidentally, various commercial real estate trade groups suggest this number is shrinking rapidly due to “hoteling” (unassigned cubicles shared by multiple workers) due to the rise of telecommuting, a trend that the cult is unlikely to embrace.  I thus am sticking with the 250 square foot number for the foreseeable future even if the overall trend in real estate is expected to drop sharply.

It’s also worth noting that within the original Big Blue building, the floor plate of a 1930s edifice is substantially less efficient than a modern skyscraper, so the percentage of each floor plate devoted to “core” functions like elevators, plumbing, janitorial, restrooms, etc. is a much higher percentage of the space on a given floor in a building of that age than in something more modern. By the way, that explains why the Empire State Building in New York is a great landmark but a terrible office building — the ratio of rentable space on each floor is too low for it to compete against modern buildings.  So in the case of the Big Blue complex, the 250 square foot per person number could actually be low when you measure the gross square footage of the complex (that’s what you measure when you measure the outside dimensions of the building).

Note that in these estimates, we’re not subtracting out square footage for delivering services, places where employees wouldn’t normally be stationed. So we’re not deducting square footage for course rooms at AOLA, for the L. Ron Hubbard life exhibit, for the Psychiatry: Industry of Death exhibit, etc. Again, we’re being “conservative” (using assumptions that are least favorable to our argument).

Using the 250 square feet per employee and dividing that into total square feet, we get about 1,300 employees in Hollywood.  Adjusting for regular staff versus Sea Org, we get to about 600-800 Sea Org in Hollywood.  So Miscavige is lying by a factor of about 2.5x to 3.5x what we believe is observable.  That, too, is consistent (perhaps even on the low side) of the “Miscavige Reality Distortion Ratio” that we’ve often seen from the cult’s “fearless leader.”

And The Same General Principle Holds True in Clearwater…

To cross-check the 2,000 claimed Sea Org in Clearwater, we’ll use a similar process.  Those of you who are denizens of the greater Tampa Bay area and who have better visibility into the real estate holdings of the cult at Flag could help list and then nail down the use of the various buildings, to help me develop an understanding of how much space is customer-related (i.e., non-office), how much is office-related, and how much is guest accommodations.  Yes, that’s a pretty subtle, but definitely impassioned plea for any hard data points that you have.

The diversity of real estate holdings in Clearwater makes the process of getting credible staff counts a bit harder, though it is still ultimately possible to get accurate numbers.  Until we’re able to list all the properties and figure out how much square footage is in each, then categorize them as office, hotel or customer spaces, we’ll try to use metrics other than the total square footage of all the downtown Clearwater buildings.  

At this point, the most useful observation came from an e-mail conversation I had with a former member and current Anon in the area, who sent a preliminary listing of properties including apartments, and who pointed out that a number of the buildings are actually empty at this point.  While I can’t find the exact notes at the moment (ah, the joys of restarting a blog after a hiatus), I am going to guess that staff levels are substantially below peak levels, with perhaps less than half the cult-owned units occupied by staff. Incidentally, it’s entirely possible that the cult over-bought apartment space a few years back, above even staffing levels at the time, so it’s not wise to try to estimate current staffing based on the number of total units.

Perhaps the best check of staff size at Flag will now boil down to the capacity of the staff dining room in the basement of the Super Power building.  The total permitted floor space of the building is 377,000 on eight floors (including the basement), so we’ll assume a floor plate of 50,000 square feet. I have some feelers out for more data about the layout of the basement, but if you subtract out machinery spaces, storage, etc., then it is reasonably likely that no more than half of the basement floor plate will be devoted to the staff dining room. Typically, in a restaurant, about 40% to 50% of the square footage is devoted to the kitchen, and the rest to the dining room. One rule of thumb suggests allocating about 20 square feet per customer. If we thus assume that the total dining space is 25,000 square feet, then a dining room of 12,500 square feet will hold about 600 staff.  Then if we further assume that they have two meal services per meal (easily done given the staff’s regimented lives), then we could believe there are about 1,200 staff at Flag.  But I would not expect hotel staff to have to eat in the staff dining room, so we could add another 300 staff to that number and get about 1,500 total staff in Clearwater.  That cross-checks reasonably well with a quick back-of-the-envelope estimate of the capacity of the occupied apartments.  And again, assuming that at most 2/3 of staff in Clearwater are Sea Org, then we get to about 800 Sea Org at Flag.

The Other Guys are Sending Me $75 Million a Year; What’s Wrong With You Morons?

The second part of Miscavige’s assertion is that he’s pulling $75 million out of Flag per year.  The quote is worded to say that “they send $1.5 million a week up to him.” In other words, that’s the contribution to Int Management and thus to the Sea Org reserves.  Let’s assume that Flag is sending about 75% of their revenue uplines. That implies that the cult is pulling in $2 million a week in gross revenue, about $100 million per year.  How credible is this?

First Cross-Check: No Decline in Flag Revenues in Ten Years? Seriously?

There are a couple of ways to cross-check this.  First, there’s a common sense metric.  Mat Pesch once commented, either in an article on Mike Rinder’s blog, Marty Rathbun’s blog or on Tony Ortega’s site, that when he was in ten years ago, Flag was pulling in about $2 million a week.  Mat was a finance guy at Flag and has been credible in his description of life in the cult, so we’ll believe that the numbers he gave are accurate.  Miscavige is thus claiming that revenue has remained consistent with the decade-ago level. Given all that has happened in the cult, this is ludicrous on its face.  In other words, the bullshit alarm is ringing loudly.  But simply sounding the bullshit alarm isn’t sufficient; we need to look at a couple of other metrics to try and understand what’s really going on in order to demolish this claim convincingly.

Second Cross-Check: Flag Revenue Per Potential Customer

Second, an upper bound of Flag revenue could come from an estimate of per-capita spending from each active member.  My current estimate is that there are 20,000 active public Scientologists.  I believe about 4,000 of those are from countries with relatively low per capita income (Russia, Taiwan, etc.) where travel to Flag on any sort of regular basis is not likely to be affordable. As a result, I believe the total market for Flag services is about 16,000 active cult members.

But it’s important to realize that likely overstates the actual addressable market for Flag services.  An addressable market is one with proven potential, not just the theoretical upper maximum.  The total market for cars is everyone who currently owns a car, plus the number of people who will get a driver’s license, minus those who will be too old to drive further. But the real addressable market for cars are some percentage of those whose leased cars whose leases are up, the number of people whose cars will be totaled in accidents, plus other populations — a far cry from the total number of drivers.

In considering the addressable market of Flag customers, I’m intrigued by the recent interviews I’ve had with ex members.  Consistently, these folks said that they had done everything possible to avoid going to Flag, since they were quite clear that they would be hit up endlessly for donations, and that they would be trapped there for far longer than they intended to stay.  They all pointed out that the pressure to donate when one stayed at Flag had consistently grown worse in their often decades-long experience in the Church.  None had been to Flag in the last ten years before they walked away from the cult.  In other words, they had all managed to avoid the clutches of the FSO reg’s.

Additionally, I believe Europeans are less likely to jump on a plane to come to Flag, partly because of the cost and hassles of much longer flights, but also because of the declasse nature of Clearwater — why go there when you can get many services at a stately English manor home (Saint Hill)?

It’s probably also necessary to cut out second generation members in their early 20s who are on their own, who don’t have the economic firepower to afford two weeks at the Fort Harrison Hotel and all the services.

Finally, one must estimate one of the most productive markets for Flag services: the customers “on the level” (i.e., doing OT VII), who are required to come in for sec checks every six months.  At this point, there are probably less than 500 Scientologists actually on the level.

I thus believe that the actual addressable market for Flag services is no more than 7,000 people (excluding OT VII sec checkers). $100 million divided by 700 people gets you to about $15,000 per person per year, for every single person in the addressable market in every single year, whether or not all of those potential customers actually do come to Flag.  That seems extremely high, though it is not inconceivable.

Importantly, it may have been possible to get $15,000 per Flag visit out of the average Flag visitor in years past if they were doing multiple intensives with Class XII auditors at $1,000 per hour.  But that is probably more the exception than the rule these days: you have to take into effect the effects of the Golden Age of Tech Phase II (GAT 2) announcement.  Remember that GAT 2 is requiring many people to redo lower-level course work, and that the promise of GAT 2 is that you’ll get through all that low-level nonsense so much faster than ever before.  We’ll ignore the opportunity for assorted (and obvious) hilarity when contemplating the joy people will feel from screwing up their brains learning Study Tech in the “Student Hat” course for the fourth time.  What’s important is that the per-hour revenue for getting people to come to Flag to do these low-level course is likely to be significantly smaller than the per-hour revenue from Class XII auditing intensives in the past.  And that suggests strongly that the Flag business is off from levels a decade ago, where the cult had a much larger addressable market (perhaps 40,000 total public worldwide in 2000 versus the current 20,000, and almost all from high-GDP economies back then).  The mix shift away from high-margin services and thus much higher per-hour revenue to lower margin low-level services must inevitably mean that revenue is down.

It’s possible that total Flag revenue is as high as $50 million, a little higher than I had previously been estimating.  I had estimated that all services-related revenue including Flag was about $60 million, but the revenue from the Orgs may actually turn out, based on recent document dumps from Mike Rinder, to be less than the $20 million I had estimated.

Third Cross-Check: Revenue Per Employee at Flag

If we believe the overall cult revenue number of $180 million is reasonably close, and we believe that the cult has about 5,000 total staff, then we quickly compute an average revenue per employee of $36,000 per year.  If we assume that the cult has efficiently distributed staff across the organization (a laughable assumption, but bear with me), then if we take cult-wide revenue per employee of $36,000 and divide our estimated $50 million per year in Flag revenue by that figure, we get about 1,400 employees who should be involved in generating that much revenue.  That’s not terribly far off our estimate of about 1,600 total staff at Flag.

The point of this excercise is not that this calculation proves our estimates of either Flag revenue or of the number of staff at Flag.  It does, however, show that there aren’t obvious contradictions in our model.  If we had estimated 2,000 staff and $100 million in Flag revenue, that would imply revenue per employee of $50,000, substantially above the cult-wide estimate, and that’s particularly suspect in the case of Flag since many of those employees are in hotel and restaurant guest services, producing much lower-margin revenue than high per-hour revenue employees like auditors and reg’s.  In other words, our current model sanity checks reasonably well.

If They’re So Rich, How Come They Have to Do Their Own Construction?

The second interesting aspect of this is that, despite the claim of taking $75 million per year out of Flag in Clearwater, and a lesser amount on the West Coast, the cult is still so expense-starved that they have to turn some appreciable fraction of Sea Org into a construction brigade to save money on construction.  

There is no particular reason to disbelieve Jillian in this story, since there are plenty of accounts of waves of staff being demoted to the RPF when Big Blue needed renovations before, then mysteriously finding that they completed the RPF program soon after renovations were finished.

However, the fact that the cult is now using Sea Org staffers for construction duty suggests either low manpower utilization on useful tasks for the Sea Org, making it attractive to pull them to other tasks, or a cash crunch that would make deploying them on renovations important to avoid extra expenses.

Most businesses are somewhat rational in their decision-making process, deploying labor where it is best used either to generate revenue or to avoid costs (i.e., paying internal slave labor only a fraction of what outside experts would cost).  But it seems unwise to believe that the cult would be rational in deciding to deploy slave labor to avoid expenses, given that David Miscavige seems to make many decisions to enjoy arbitrary control over the lives of staff, rather than from economically valid principles.  The detail that Jillian was detailed along with another girl to remove Fiberglas insulation from ceiling crawl spaces in Las Vegas, rather than participating in a large-scale construction project at Big Blue suggests that the motivation for creating this construction brigade is unclear — a small project like might not necessarily have been undertaken for economic reasons, but just as a way for Miscavige to throw his organizational weight around.

When I started considering the apparent contradiction between Miscavige’s inflated claims of staff size and revenue at Flag versus the apparent need to save money on construction, I was hoping to be able to quantify this, but I’m not entirely certain about the financial aspects of this construction project. Anyone with any detailed perspective on recent construction efforts in Hollywood could help greatly in teasing out relevance, if any, of this detail.

The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming

The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming!
Poster for the 1966 comedy classic

Jillian’s assertion that 80% of Sea Org at Flag are Russians is quite interesting. There had been numerous reports that employees are increasingly non-native English speakers, and Eastern European origin for many of the staff was frequently mentioned, though Latin Americans are also a large part of the mix.  But the assertion that 80% of all Sea Org in Clearwater are Russians is a bit surprising.

Some discussions on WhyWeProtest suggest that these Russians are not all Russian nationals, but may be Moldovans and Russian speakers from Eastern European countries whose economies are in even worse shape than that of Mother Russia.  Interestingly, the economic situation in Russia is not all that good; I’ve read surveys that suggest that almost half of young Russian citizens want to emigrate to the West.  It’s not hard to believe that the situation is even worse in small satellite countries like Moldova or its breakaway Transdnistria region.  That certainly suggests that the cult has access to a pool of desperate recruits.

While it certainly cross-checks with already known facts that many Eastern Europeans are being sucked into the cult’s slave labor pool, it’s not clear that the number has reached 80%.  For that to have happened, there would have had to have been massive expansion of the size of the Sea Org.  There’s no evidence that there has been any such expansion, either in anecdotal checks in the activity levels at Pac Base or Flag, or in other stories from recent defectors.  Economically, given the low cost of Sea Org labor (I suggested the fully loaded cost of a Sea Org staffer is probably about $500 per month), the cult could potentially expand the size of the labor pool “just because” without wrecking finances. However, I am not sure the cult would do this just to feed Miscavige’s need to keep up appearances — adding 500 staff would cost at least $3 million per year, difficult to justify in a time where revenue is likely declining faster than the rate seen in previous years.

If massive expansion of the Sea Org was not the driver behind a sharp rise in the percentage of Russian-speakers in the mix, then the only other possible explanation is a significant wave of replacement of existing Sea Org members.  Again, there’s not any real evidence that this is taking place. 

I would thus treat the 80% number with some skepticism, as if it is a quick eyeball guess or a number relayed through a number of intermediaries before it got to Jillian.  It may be that 80% of new Sea Org recruits literally are Russian speakers, though the total number of Russian speakers in the Sea Org remains quite a bit lower.

If 80% of new Sea Org are Russian speakers, that would speak to the increasing difficulty of using the kids of existing members as Sea Org recruits. That, in turn, suggests that the potential to use the threat of disconnection from a kid in the Sea Org to keep doubting parents in line is losing its impact.  And remember, the parents of Sea Org members are presumably the more loyal of the older generation of Scientologists, and if a key retention tool to keep them enmeshed in the cult is losing its effectiveness, then further declines in membership in the short to medium term are inevitable.

Any further data points on the nationalities of arriving Sea Org members would be extremely helpful.

Emerging Trends to Watch

Eric Falkow joins staff... at age 79

Eric Falkow joins staff… at age 79!

Given the struggles the cult has in retaining staff, we’re always interested in looking at emerging trends in where they’re finding new employees.  This is why the influx of Russian speakers into Flag is important to monitor closely and to quantify more closely.

But in the last two weeks’ “Sunday Funnies” stories, Tony Ortega’s blog has featured older cult members going onto staff, the first time I can recall seeing something. Once is a curiosity, twice is a coincidence and three times might just be a trend worth considering.

Yesterday’s column featured the above ad, proudly announcing that Eric Falkow has joined the staff of the Pasadena Ideal Org.  According to one database I use, there is a 79-year old named Eric Falkow living in Pasadena; it’s reasonable to conclude that they’re the same person.

If we see any more older members joining staff, that could be evidence of yet another desperation strategy in trying to fill the rolls.  This and similar evidence of difficulty recruiting new staff leads to the scenario I’ll detail in a blog post later this week: can the cult continue to operate if the number of employees at local orgs shrinks beyond some minimal level?  

103 thoughts on “An Interesting Data Point on Sea Org Headcount and Revenue

  1. antibity

    As far as estimating the # of SO on the west coast goes, there is Big Blue and the HGB, also Int Base in the desert. Also, all of the social betterment groups having SO staff which are not located in the aforementioned buildings. I suspect 2,000 is a number rounded up from something greater than 1,300.

    1. Anonymous

      The above is true and one needs to also consider CC INT which in the past had 100-200 Sea Org staffers. This number may no longer be true given the overall decline of Scientology, however at one time CC INT was the 2nd most lucrative U.S. service delivery org, after FLAG.

      1. John P.

        The one credible data point from the past regarding Flag revenue was Mat Pesch’s document leak some time ago that said Flag was pretty consistently doing $2 million a week about ten years ago.

        Since then, Flag has been cannibalizing business from the outer orgs, as the cult has restricted the types of “products” that the local orgs can sell. That most likely has been to keep up the appearance that the cult is doing well — if people went to Flag and it was a ghost town, that would give the lie to the “straight up and vertical expansion” claims at the heart of the legitimacy of Miscavige’s tenure on the throne.

        But I don’t think that Flag is doing that well anymore. The dire state of the business at local orgs, where we have some data suggesting that the average org is doing only a few thousand a week in revenue, suggest that there is not enough business for further cannibalization. The fact that people are now being invited to do lower-level services at Flag reinforces the notion that cannibalization of outer orgs is about the only hope for driving business at Flag. And if the only business that Ideal Orgs have left is table scraps, then that says that the cannibalization strategy has run its course. And if that’s the case, then it’s unlikely in the extreme that Flag is doing anything like what it was doing in the past.

        I bet if you were to track down those legendary (and potentially apocryphal) times when Flag did $11 in a single week, I would guess it was largely due to Advance Payments (i.e., deposits) paid on the cusp of a price increase. It seems unlikely that the operation at Flag is scalable enough to do 3x to 6x the service delivery in one week that it did the week before and then return to normal. Services are relatively dependent on available skilled labor (auditing) and they just can’t whistle up a lot more auditors on a moment’s notice.

        1. Anonymous

          “I bet if you were to track down those legendary (and potentially
          apocryphal) times when Flag did $11 in a single week, I would guess it
          was largely due to Advance Payments (i.e., deposits) paid on the cusp of
          a price increase.”


          It may also have been near the end of the Service Completion Award program that gave folks a 10% “award” for using Advance Payments to show up and complete various services. There actually was a time when FLAG prided itself on performing a high volume of services well, ensuring that public were happy with their stay and likely to return for more.

          That atmosphere is long, long gone and now being a public at FLAG is almost as bad as being a staff member.

          In fact, the resentment from staff members towards public who come for auditing, then leave to return to their lives, is palpable. That resentment combined with the rapacious regging during every available moment of a public’s visit to FLAG ensures that people stay away in droves. Its a very toxic environment, the service is angry and poor and the hotel / restaurants are grossly overpriced compared to similar wog accommodations in the immediate area.

          There really is very little to recommend the place.

          There is no question that traffic at FLAG is way down over its peak volumes, which was probably during the mid-to-late-90’s. Cannibalization of outer Orgs normal traffic is absolutely happening, making an already bad situation for those Orgs even worse.

          The $11 million weekly high was the topic of frequent conversation, which does not make it true, but it certainly was commonly touted as a significant occurrence.

          Met Pesch’s $2 million / week estimate in first half of the 2000’s make sense partly because of his role at FLAG and also because they are consistent with a decline in traffic from the era just prior. The fallout from the Lisa McPherson tragedy and its bungled “handling” was significant.

          When added to the rest of what ails Scientology, FLAG has never recovered.

  2. Derek

    The recently renovated “hotel” on Fountain Ave at the big blue complex used to be full of staff. Now all that space has been commandeered for public. That supports your theory about the number of staff.

  3. Derek

    Miscavige also has a habit of taking a peak and promoting it as an average. So 1.5m was probably a peak back in 2013. I suspect realistically 300k-500k as an average. That’s what pac base was pulling when I was there. It peaked at over a million a few times when I was there but that was rarely repeated.

    1. Mighty Korgo of Teegeeack

      I see that, too. Everybody lies about sex and money; cult leaders would be no different.

  4. Stat Push

    Great analysis John. Though I am only about one-third of the way through, some thoughts occurred to me. With regards to space allocation, you may want to consider a few things:

    1) The Sea Org worker experience and existence is probably closer to a communistic model than a Western one, actually Foxconn may serve as a good reference point.

    2) I’ve lived in SO berthing in Big Blue years ago and we had 9 people to a room (3 tiered bunkbeds x 3) which normally would house one person, two max.

    3) Seeing SO members on the street in Clearwater is getting increasingly rare, but may not be due to decreasing numbers. Within the past 6-9 months security measures have increased to limit the exposure of SO members to the big, bad outside world.

    4) Anyone going to the FSO is most likely going for auditing. In all my 30 years I’ve almost never heard of a public going to Flag for training, unless they were org staff. In the past it was Case Cracking or L Rundowns, but since they started to specialize in Quickie Grades, this may account for more of their delivery.

    5) Anyone going to Flag for auditing would MINIMALLY purchase two intensives. Most likely more. I mean, don’t even get on a plane without at least two intensives.

    6) With regards to DM’s PAC figures, I suspect he is including staff at the HGB, as well as Bridge, INCOMM, ASI, CCInt etc, in other words, the entire LA operation. While it has been years since I’ve been to PAC, it is difficult to believe AOLA, ASHOD/F, LAD/F and CLO WUS have a total of 2000 SO members. Maybe, just maybe, combine ALL orgs, bother service and management, you might get close to the 2000 mark.

    7) Careful when evaluating service prices, GAT II includes a radically different pricing structure, which will need to be considered against pre-GAT II income data.

    Keep up the good work. Your posts are valuable.


    1. John P.

      Thanks for the perspective. For the West Coast operation, I was focused on the square feet of office space for them to do their day jobs, rather than the space needed for living quarters. While I knew that some portion of the Big Blue building was living quarters and not offices, I counted all of that building as office space to be conservative (i.e., to make assumptions least favoring my desired scenario).

      To count Sea Org at Flag via looking at accommodations, we’d need to get a current understanding of how many people are bunking in a room once we get the number of units in each of the apartment complexes, and this is where your experiences would be very valuable.

      The other trick to try to estimate staff levels at Flag was to get to the dining room capacity. They’re using the Flag cafeteria to keep people out of the community, as you point out in your item #3 above.

      Thanks for the reminder about changes in service prices on GAT 2. I need to do a deep dive into comparing the two things to figure out how he’s trying to bleed more revenue from supposedly faster progress up the bridge. Any specific pointers from the community are very welcome.

  5. SciWatcher

    Also, if there really are so many people going to flag for services and other such sources of revenue, wouldn’t we be seeing far more reports of “wins” etc. The leaks of these that end up on Tony’s and Mike’s blogs are generally so lame–like they’re clutching at straws ready to report anything that smells slightly of success. If people were, say, doing the Super Power rundown, you would think we’d hear about it.

  6. Mark

    “…it’s reasonable to expect that one wouldn’t see too many of the Sea Org types out on the sidewalk during nose-to-the-grindstone hours.”

    When the Sea Org move about en masse (hollow laughter) in Clearwater nowadays, they no longer walk anywhere, but are put on buses even for the shortest trips. ‘Sunny Sands’ has documented this with her regular photo-posts over at the Bunker, and there was a recent article in the Tampa Bay Times where local businesses complained about the lack of footfall.

    Of course this bussing is meant to isolate the SO from the outside world and lessen the risk of attempted escapes, but I wonder if it isn’t also to disguise how very few SO are really left?

      1. Mark

        Scuttling hordes – even discernible on Google Earth’s street-view feature – until last year, when they updated the images. Clearwater’s been a city without a proper centre for years; now the areas round FLAG & the Fort Harrison apparently look like a film-set most of the time.

    1. John P.

      The comment about Sea Org on the sidewalk was more about conditions at the Pac Base than at Flag. My host on my recent tour said break time are the few moments where L. Ron Hubbard way in Hollywood isn’t a ghost town. Apparently, they’re allowed out of the building on carefully regimented smoke breaks, and then just as quickly, they go back inside and resume doing whatever menial tasks make up their work day. I imagine it must look like break time at some enormous dreary Dickensian factory.

  7. Miss Tia

    I think one of the additional reasons to use Sea Org for construction, is that they do NOT want outside construction firms/contractors on their property. When/if outsiders are there, they would obviously SEE things they would find questionable, as would most reasonable people. I recall in Beyond Belief when she wrote how they had an outside contractor one time at the ranch and they started to ask questions. By keeping outsiders OUT, they don’t have to hide their behaviors—which they know deviate from the norm and border—dip into—the illegal.

    1. Eclipse-girl

      Outsiders have a tendency to demand safe working conditions.

      I remember watching a 40 min video of the then- scientologist who was in charge of revamping the Freewinds. There were huge problems with asbestos. They eventually had to hire some firm experienced at this type of renovation, and they had HUGE reservations at what had been done and how to proceed while protecting their own workers.

      1. Miss Tia

        YES! That too! I didn’t even consider that—I was still working on first cup of coffee then 😉 With outside workers they’d have to comply with all rules, regulations, LAWS. Proper hours, proper pay, proper safety equipment, proper disposal of hazardous material, etc.

      2. Anandamide

        Nordica Engineering; they pulled their workers back when they found out it was blue asbestos (which Co$ denied). Wiki says Nordica considered suing on behalf of the 250 Polish workers who had been working on the ship. Couldn’t find anything more recent than 2008.

        1. Eclipse-girl

          TY. I wish Nordica had sued.

          The video is excellent. The man involved did leave scientology. What the workers, SO minions did is scary. Knowing what I know, I would never go near that carcenogenic tub, and I am scared for anyone who spent anytime on board

      3. aegerprimo

        That was Lawrie Woodcraft, who was and is a licensed architect. I was on the Freewinds working with him at that time when the whole blue asbestos fiasco happened, when it was originally discovered and how it was covered up/ignored by church upper management. I have some insider experience when it comes to “construction” in the Sea Org. My story at ESMB (Lawrie’s video is included)…’s-Story

        You are totally right Miss Tia and Eclipse Girl. The Co$ does not want outside construction firms (who are WOG) see things that are questionable and have them demand safe working conditions. If you choose to go down the rabbit-hole of my story, you will find nothing has changed with the Co$ after all these years. The health and well being of SO members is never considered important. Somehow it does not surprise me that Jullian, once in the CMO eventually ended up on a “construction” crew. I started out in the CMO as well.

        1. Eclipse-girl

          AP, you have written before and I NEED a confirmation. You do get your lungs checked on a regular basis.

          One of the SO actually ate a bite of Blue Asbestos.

          I do not know what happened to that person (a him)?

  8. chukicita

    Re: real estate square footage per staff member — this may not be a valid methodology when it comes to Scn, Inc. Consider how they purchase real estate that sits vacant and they increasingly rely heavily on square feet statistics announced at events in big voices to demonstrate their ‘expansion.’

    Re: Scientology finances: Mark Plummer, aka Warrior, worked in Scn Finance offices for many years. He provided some very thoughtful details, even referencing back to the LRH issues that drove Scientology’s fun-loving financial policies. Here’s a most interesting one (starts out about rice and beans, but scroll down – it outlines exactly where an org’s income is disbursed):!msg/alt.religion.scientology/kO63ZT_2GPw/KacAFRWVKacJ

    Re: Scientology properties in CW: Here’s a good place to start. A 2004 interactive map of Scientology properties owned in Clearwater and their purposes, published by the St Petersburg Times:

    Then update at:

    Which shows everything in Clearwater as of 2008 or so (I helped update this at the time).

    Then go to the Pinellas County Appraiser’s office website. While it’s impossible to cover all the front groups, you can search the official names (i.e. Church of Scientology Flag Service Organization) and you’ll see which properties are used for ‘religious’ purposes. You can also enter slight differentiations on these names and come up with hits.

    1. chukicita

      Here’s a li’l piece of Mark Plummer/Warrior’s post from a.r.s. in the long ago time:

      “HCO Policy Letter 13 February 1971 “Finance Series 2 – Financial Planning

      Tips” is a key policy letter governing Scientology organization financial
      planning and the allocation of money (often called “beans” by Hubbard, in
      the context of finance). I am very familiar with this policy letter for
      a couple of reasons. Number one, when I was the Financial Planning Chairman
      for ASHO Day, I had to apply this policy with regards to deciding how the
      org’s financial allocation (called the FP sum) would be spent. Number two,
      I studied this policy as part of my training for no less than six different
      courses I did — Director of Disbursements Full Hat, Treasury Secretary
      Full Hat, Staff Status III (in my case the OEC Volume III, Treasury Division
      Volume), Advisory Council Member Hat, Financial Planning Chairman Hat and
      Finance Specialist Course.)

      It is a basic policy of Scientology, based upon Hubbard’s writings to
      “reward up statistics and punish [also called penalize] down statistics”.
      When a Scientology organization’s stats are down [and not just the “GI”
      (gross income)], the org is punished in the form of a decreased financial
      allocation. It’s a matter of simple mathematics. Here’s how it works
      (I’ll use realistic estimates based upon my experience at ASHO Day).

      Let’s say ASHO Day has a “GI” of $50,000 (which it often did) for the
      week. Included in the $50,000 GI are gross book sales of $10,000 (which
      is a very realistic figure). Here’s where the money goes:

      $50,000 – Gross Income (GI) – all GI rec’d is deposited to the FBO #1 Acct
      – 10,000 – Gross Book Sales (GBS) – transferred to Org HCO Book Account
      – 7,000 – FSMCs Paid (FSMCs Pd) – transferred to Org FSM Account
      – 1,000 – Bounced checks (B Ck) counted on previous week’s income
      – 3,500 – Service Completion Awards Pd. (SCA Pd) – transferred to Org SCA
      – 1,000 – Memberships (Memb) – transferred to Org HCO Book Acct.
      – 2,000 – Refunds/Repayments (Ref/RAP) – transferred to Org CVB Account
      – 800 – Sales Tax on GBS – transferred to Org Main Acct.
      $24,700 – Corrected Gross Income (CGI)
      – 4,940 – 20% to Sea Org Reserves (SOR)*
      – 1,235 – 5% to Trustee Account (GOWW)*
      – 1,235 – 5% to Org GO Account (GO Main Acct.)*
      – 1,235 – 5% to Guardian Office Reserves (GO Defense Acct.)*
      – 2,470 – 10% to Org Reserves and/or Backbills (Org. Reserve Acct.)*
      – 500 – transferred to FBO #2 Acct. for Flag expenses incurred locally [@]
      $13,085 – Financial Planning Sum (FP Sum)
      – 4,940 – for promotion (minimum 20% of CGI)*
      – 5,434 – for basic expenses (as per FP#1 – not fixed, usually around 22%)
      – 2,211 – for staff welfare (more about this below)
      500 – balance retained in FBO #1 Acct. for Bounced Check cushion [#]”

    2. John P.

      Thanks for this and for the Mark Plummer post. I really appreciate the data points.

      Incidentally, for the square footage per staff member, if we took the total square feet of cult-owned office space and divided by staff member, we’d get an obscene number. Consider the Orange County Ideal Org in Santa Ana. The building has 48,000 square feet. Today, I’d be surprised if there are even a dozen staff members on duty at a time, yielding 4,000 square feet per person. If we then mistakenly applied the 250 square feet per employee rule of thumb to the 48,000 feet in the OC org, we’d estimate 192 employees, which is unlikely to put it mildly. As a result, I was using this sort of rule of thumb only in the two headquarters operations at Flag and in Hollywood, where it has some chance of being useful.

  9. Mighty Korgo of Teegeeack

    Thanks for the continued analysis, John. Most of what we hear, most of what I have said, is a bit like reading tea leaves. I am not their accountant. I do not go to their board meetings. The future is always filled with surprises. I also realize that in statistical analysis, shifting a few variables only slightly can bring up a far different picture. Your picture is in interesting and sensible. Time will tell just how accurate it is.

    Here is some information that may relate to the Russians… As a citizen of a foreign country I watched a close friend go to LA to work for Scientology. This was decades ago and I am sure things have changed but sometimes things don’t change much. At the time, it was easier to enter the US but there was no guarantee that a Canadian applicant would be allowed entry. My friend applied to enter as a minister, or perhaps to do missionary work. Old friends like me viewed this as a fraud. He was no more a minister than a University student in week one of a course on comparative religion. As for missionary work, he had, up until that time, been a Scientology salesman and we assumed he would continue in that capacity. The whole thing stunk but it worked. He stayed in LA for a good twenty years before he got kicked out (by the Scientologists not by the US government) and came back to Canada.

    From all indications, it is much better to live in America then in Russia. Being a Scientology missionary or minister might aid in emigration.

    1. Richard Grant

      Somebody posted a comment last year, on Tony’s blog I think, about staffers from overseas the commenter had worked with at Flag. The folks in question were from Latin America and the Caribbean, I think. The long and short of it was that these folks had no devotion to Scientology; they were only interested in the work visa, and were constantly on the lookout for other, better employment that would allow them to keep the visa but blow the church.

      I have no idea how they managed this with all the controls and crippling hours of a Scientology staff job. Maybe they were able to tap into the local expatriate community somehow and get job referrals that way. But according to the commenter, several succeeded in pulling this off, and most of the others would have done so if they could. Hardly the makings of a dedicated staff, and likely a breeding ground for passive resistance, conspiracy, and covert class struggle. David M is remarkably inventive when it comes to creating new problems for himself, often by resorting to crude tactics for handling old ones.

      Unhappy with your shrinking staff? Here’s a cool way of getting a big new pool of unhappy workers who despise you!

      1. Mighty Korgo of Teegeeack

        I think of the Scientology inspired movie Bowfinger. The Steve Martin character needs people who will work for very little money on his film. He goes to the Mexican border in a van, opens the back doors and as the illegal immigrants cross he points to the doors and yells, “Andele, Andele” (I am sure the spelling is wrong but you get the idea).

      2. John P.

        David M is remarkably inventive when it comes to creating new problems for himself, often by resorting to crude tactics for handling old ones.

        This should go on Missionary Kid’s list of “Things Said About Scientology.” It’s a classic. The haste to do a quickie short-term fix to a long term problem is always a bad idea, and the art form has reached its zenith inside Scientology.

      3. Missionary Kid

        The sentence, “David M is remarkably inventive when it comes to creating new problems for himself, often by resorting to crude tactics for handling old ones.” is such a good observation that I put it on two lists: THINGS SAID ABOUT $CIENTOLOGY and on THINGS SAID ABOUT DAVID MI$CAVIGE

  10. Richard Grant

    John, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen more examples of this elderly-new-staffer phenomenon stretching back over the past several months. I can’t produce specific examples, but this sort of thing catches my eye as I have recently joined the over-60 crowd myself.

    One thing that strikes me about Jillian’s testimony (of which I gather a few installments are still to come) is that what we’re getting here is not so much a snapshot of the church from the inside, but rather a reading of the thought-world that prevails among the rank-and-file of the org. Putting it another way, this is not a piece of oral journalism, it is a collection of “barrack room ballads” (in Kipling’s phrase).

    In a real naval organization, you wouldn’t expect ordinary seamen or petty officers — however smart and truthful they are — to have much solid information about operations, planning or strategy. They would have heard things, of course, but they themselves would have no way of measuring how reliable these stories were. The point is, though, that the stories that get passed around widely are the ones that FEEL true to the sailors hearing and repeating them. So we learn as much from hearing stories that we know to be INCORRECT, such as the widely shared understanding that David Miscavige’s lifestyle is relatively modest, as befits a hard-working and dedicated commander.

    This example tells us that Jillian and her comrades chose to leave the Sea Org — and to do so by blowing, not routing out, apparently — for an entirely DIFFERENT set of reasons than those that motivated the audience for Debbie Cook’s email, Mike and Tony’s blogs, and other information channels we’re familiar with. There is a current of awareness within the Sea Org itself that, until now, has been difficult to measure or even to detect. These folks have only a restricted, “below-decks” view of happenings in the church as a whole (which is a reason not to depend too heavily on details like 80% or $75M). But if something is going profoundly wrong with the ship — the equivalent of an impending engine failure, rotten food in the galley, a bad leak in the bilges — these folks will detect it long before the news reaches the captain. And they will share it with their crew mates.

    I am very interesting in learning more about what motivated Jillian and her comrades to jump ship. Why so many of them at once? And why now?

    1. John P.

      Richard, your comments about how stories from low-level staffers leaving an organization are more about the culture than about the information content are exactly right. And you’ve put forth great perspective on what else we should mine from Jillian’s complete video interview — I would hope that some of the issues you raised, like how so many blew at one time, will be answered in future installments.

      At Global Capitalism HQ, what we do with low-level field contacts in companies we invest in is to accumulate multiple field checks and look for patterns. We don’t take one field check as inerrant accurate truth about the way things are across the organization. And the things that look like hard data points, like the one about $75 million per year sent “uplines” from Flag we cross-check ruthlessly. So the post here was an exercise in trying to think about how credible those assertions were, or at least what they could tell us about Miscavige and his current state of desperation if they failed the sniff test.

  11. Gerard Plourde

    Great analysis. And while I have nothing more than speculation to go on, it seems to me that the reorganization to enable more money to flow to Miscavige would indicate a need for that money to replace a diminished revenue stream from other sources.

  12. Ms. B. Haven

    Excellent post John P. I wish that I had more time to comment here, I thought of a couple of things that could be flies in the ointment of analysis. Here’s my quick once over.

    First, your comments about the reliability of the source, “The question then becomes whether Miscavige’s numbers are credible.” In my experience in the cult, random comments by management, regges, ethics officers and various staff are almost always lies. There is little or no basis for their stats or numbers. Anyone who questions something that seems odd or out of line is subject to a friendly “severe reality adjustment” or visit to the ethics officer to eliminate any counter intention. I don’t doubt the numbers that Jillian is relaying, but those numbers mean absolutely nothing if they are coming from anyone in management. The only numbers that I would trust from her were those she observed directly. For example, the numbers of people crowded into sleeping quarters and the number of people using single toilet facilities. (Those numbers might skew your staff/square foot numbers, remember this is scientology not a unionized wog office. Of course these facilities are now “Ideal” so maybe they could be skewed the other way?) The other problem with estimating numbers is that one person just doesn’t have access to those numbers unless they are very senior management. I doubt that even a well traveled SO member would have any idea of the number of fellow SO members working at any particular facility. These people tend to be focused on their particular job and have no idea what is going on in the rest of the building or org. If there is a staff muster, one might get an idea of how many are in attendance, but are all accounted for?

    I remember back in the 80s being recruited to do work at Int Base. I was involved in a specialized aspect of the construction industry at the time and I was also just a public person taking some courses at an org. This work was all sort of ‘hush hush’. I made some inquiries into the exact nature of the work and I was told, with a ‘wink and a nod’, that new buildings were being built utilizing the latest techniques available, for my ears only, that some ‘whole track’ methods were being employed. This strongly implied that Hubbard was directly involved in the oversight of the project and he was recalling methods from ‘way back when’ to facilitate the construction of these buildings. Of course I was intrigued. I thought that if I were to take a sabbatical and work at the base for 6-12 months I would be able to emerge with some ‘new’ construction technology under my belt and have an upper hand in the wog world. This was all lies of course. A typical ‘reg cycle’. In hindsight, it was really a recruiting cycle. Once at the Base and working, I would have been a sitting duck for some crush recruiting into the SO. A flicker of self preservation and intuition kept me from taking that bait. Bottom line, you will hear lots of things coming from various sources in scientology. All have the sound of some sort of authority, but NONE of it can be believed. Never believe the story, never believe the numbers, never believe the stats. These people lie. These people can’t be trusted.

    As for the Russian influence, I would find it hard to believe that 80% of SO are Russian speakers. If this is the case, only 20% of SO would be visible to the public. I can’t quite imagine a young 20 something auditor, reg, or recruiter being all that effective in ‘getting their product’. I can certainly see these folks working behind the scenes doing menial labor that doesn’t involve interaction with the public. Of course this all plays into my stereotypes of Russian speakers that I acquired at a young age as a result of growing up in Cold War America watching Boris and Natasha in the Bullwinkle cartoons. Shame on me but I am guessing that every scientology whale out there suffers from the same stereotyping influence no matter how much auditing they have received.

    1. John P.

      You’re right. Management in Scientology always lies. They’re not terribly good at it. Management of companies that Global Capitalism HQ invests in also lie often enough that we never trust them without extensive cross-checking of everything they say. They are, however, usually better liars than the clowns running this cult. Among the classics: Dick Fuld and his lieutenants telling the Street everything was fine as Lehman Brothers hurtled full speed off the cliff. Not all are as egregious as that, but we learned long ago never to trust management’s numbers.

      So this post was an exercise in cross-checking information provided by management and trying to get to some reasonable estimate of the truth. The point is that it is still possible to get useful data when surrounded by liars with a little hard work and a community of people with perspective that you can build into useful truth, like a mosaic takes small shards of broken glass and creates something beautiful.

      Thanks for sharing your story about almost getting sucked into the Int Base machinery by the story about “whole track construction tech.” If Hubbard were twice as good at building buildings as he is at building companies, Int Base would be a smoking pile of radioactive rubble today.

      I agree that 80% of SO in Flag are unlikely to be Russian speakers, and I showed why that’s unlikely. It’s possible that 80% of new recruits are Russian speakers. But even if that’s not accurate either, what’s interesting (and what bears further monitoring) is the idea that the wave of immigrants is building and that it’s perceived by other staff as being big enough that it probably impairs their ability to do their jobs (they might cringe at having to call Flag to talk to yet another struggling immigrant who doesn’t yet have the English skills to be effective in the job). If immigrants are up, then natives, typically children of members are down, implying that the cult is losing a major hook to retain older members. Even if the numbers are wrong, that’s an interesting trend that could be vitally important to monitor further.

    2. John Ritson

      Another reason to believe that Russian numbers (in the US) are limited is the organisation’s paranoia. We know how they like to split up couples and families on staff, keeping the staff isolated, without anyone they can confide in, so a person with doubts is an atomised individual, up against the machine.
      But if an exec sees Igor and Yuri talking together in Russian, then what might they be talking about? How to make the floors even shinier, or are they grumbling about their conditions?
      Large numbers of people with a basic connection, with experience of living under a repressive regime, and able to communicate among themselves effectively in secret. Not a good idea for the cult.

  13. Panopea Abrupta

    Since they bus the staff to and from Flag, surely it would be possible to do a bus count over a few days and arrive at a pretty good guesstimate of the # of Sea Ogres arrive and leave daily?
    There are feet on the ground there.
    Also, see the video in yesterday’s post on Tony’s blog.
    Many (most?) of the SO did seem to be Eastern European.
    Umbrella tech made it harder to see clearly – but still.

    1. John P.

      That is exactly how you settle the Sea Org staff size — get actual observational data. Looking at the bus arrivals is a very clever approach on your part. Know anybody down there who can count noses when they arrive?

      1. Panopea Abrupta

        No, but Tony does.
        At the Bunker, there are regular posters – THDNE, Sunny Sands and others.
        Mark Bunker is there but too well known.
        And then there is the event in May where other out of towners will descend upon Clam Central.

  14. cdub

    Russians or Eastern Europeans filling up the seats in the Sea Org.
    “a significant wave of replacement of existing Sea Org members.” John P. suggests. They’re “a pool of desperate recruits” who are eager to work in the US.

    Sure seems odd. Maybe they’re here because DM considers the native English-speakers (from North America, GB, Australia) a bigger risk? In this scenario the collapse is already well underway and DM is getting rid of the native English-speakers before they do him any more harm.

    1. Eclipse-girl

      I am think that the pool of native english speakers is shrinking. They just do not exist in the numbers needed to provide services.

      1. cdub

        I agree. It leads to several more problems. Providing service will go through a big transition while the eastern Europeans and/or Russians learn the job from the bottom up probably without proper hat turnovers. But “a pool of desperate recruits” is not a stable workforce. As soon as they find something better, which won’t be hard, they’re gone.

        Leading me to think the collapse is already well underway.

        1. Eclipse-girl

          This escape of Jillian and others has made me rethink what is happening. I am somewhat surprised that David had English speakers doing these awful construction jobs. I would use the non native English speakers for such jobs, and let the English speakers proved services in Florida and LA.

          1. cdub

            My alternate theory is that DM is secretly negotiating the sale of Scientology and the east Europeans/Russians are the first wave of new management trainees who will eventually take over the middle management. The actual buyer, in this one, remains hidden but a puppet set of directors are installed to run the day-to-day affairs.

            Regardless how fantastical this is, I really do believe DM is looking for a way out of the US. There was that story recently about a failed attempt to purchase land in Canada and then another failure yesterday in France by some whale.

          2. John P.

            The scenario of DM trying to sell off the cult is interesting. I am not sure that’s what is going on. Typically, people sell when they think they can’t add any new ideas to turning around a struggling company. The cult is indeed struggling (probably beyond the possibility of redemption), but I believe that DM still thinks he can turn it around. Alternatively, he may accept that it’s doomed but is determined to hang on personally to loot as much as he can from the rubble. When the whole thing implodes is the right time to make the move to grab everything that’s not nailed down.

            I think the cult is more likely retreating from Europe, as evidenced by holding the IAS event in the US for the first time in many years, using the tent shipped from the UK (implying he’s not going back there for some time, if ever). It may also be retreating from the rest of the world, either intentionally or as the wake of bad decisions like declaring most of the 30-year Scientologists in South Africa a few months back.

          3. Baby

            JP.. In my way of thinking working in Mental Health for 30 yrs.

            DM is such an extreme narcissist that he loathes any reference to Hubs. Clearwater is HIS Mecca. Saint Hill was Hubs.

            He may Talk about Hubs to the sheep, but he is truly the biggest SP in the Cult. It is NO secret that he has altered tech and has changed the rules.

            So to me that is one of the biggest reasons for the retreat. He wants the Power and the Home to HIS POWER is Clearwater.

          4. Missionary Kid

            I worked for a CEO who ran the company his father turned over to him into the ground, partially because it wasn’t HIS, and partially, after I’d left, because of the change in technology.

            His business decisions were irrational, unless you realized that he was an adult child of an alcoholic as well as an extreme narcissist.

            Image was everything to him, and I saw many decisions made on that basis instead of what was good for the corporation.

          5. Missionary Kid

            I know I do a lot of projecting on dm the characteristics of this individual. He didn’t attack people, but he was a shit.

  15. Anonymous

    These numbers are an excellent starting point for both anecdotal and data based adjustment. Thanks so much for bringing a sharpened pencil to the conversation!

  16. Michael Leonard Tilse


    Thanks for the new post. I see you are really getting down and dirty with trying to figure out how many sea org staff there likely are and how much money they are actually making for Miscavige.

    I have a few thoughts on my own experience and knowledge of the LA sea org complex and buildings as well as my experience and how that compares to your analysis.

    The figure of 2,000 sea org members at each of the locations, Clearwater and Los Angeles seems to me to be down quite a bit from the 80’s peak.

    In 1979 or so there were almost 300 RPF sea org members along with over 100 new sea org recruits. This was in addition to all the staff members of AOLA, ASHO, CLO (FOLO), PAC Estates, CCLA, PUBS Org and other small units.

    Now Days there would be sea org members in multiple groups: AOLA, ASHO, CLO, Estates, CCLA, PUBS, ABLE, INT Management building (Flag Command Bureaux), CMO IXU, CMO PAC, OSA Int., SMI Int, INCOMM, INT Training Org, Translations Unit, RPF, Estates Project Force (EPF), “Detached” staff at Author Services Inc., Pac Base Security Staff, US IAS Membership Tour (the local IAS sharks) and various pockets such as staff supporting the Int C/S office, ED Int office, Testing Center staff, Local RTC staff, etc.

    LA Org would most likely not be sea org staff except for the top level posts. They wouldn’t live on base or in sea org housing.

    All the sea org staff would be housed in local cult owned berthing housing like the “Fountain building” used to be along with an apartment building near CCLA, and the “Testing Center” building, otherwise known as the hollywood hotel building. There used to be several others devoted to sea org berthing.

    Flag is also likely to be a mishmash of various sea org units doing various things in a similar way.

    Back in 1978 there was an effort to establish a PAC Estates Renovations Org (PERO) that was run by the famous “Captain Bill.” More recently, a similar but more successful outfit was housed in the former PUBS building above the boiler rooms for the BIG BLUE complex. So a renovations org is not new news. But if it is established as a renovations unit, it can hardly be seriously a ‘religious’ activity and should really be paying real wages. So add that to sea org members, possibly scavenged from the rest of the units.

    In Jillian’s video she seems to be talking about delivery staff not the layers of management staff. I don’t get the sense she is including the various management groups and non public delivery units.

    But FLAG is mostly delivery and accommodations staff with estates and osa and some of the usual management overhead. Whereas in the LA area, I would venture there are way more management level staff than there are sea org staff on delivery lines. That doesn’t include the several hundred staff sea org out at Int Base near Hemet.

    Big Blue, the Y shaped building is only 7 main floors. The top part is mostly elevator equipment and one approx. 30′ x 30′ room underneath the cupola.

    Lebonon Hall the center rectangle is 7 main floors, a small 1/3 or less floor area at the top. the first floor is taken up by large auditorium.

    Asho is 4 floors plus a lower level and basement. AOLA is 4 floors plus a basement. LA Org is two floors plus a basement level.

    The pubs building is (or was) a basement boiler room level with about 20′ ceiling height in 2/3 of the bottom level with a mezzanine and the other 1/3 usable space, capped by a full building size upper floor with also high ceiling with a mezzanine at one end. I’m sure it’s been divided up.

    The large visible parking lot at the big blue complex is almost exclusively for public cars. Very few sea org members have cars, usually legacy from before sea org service. Those used to mostly be stored in the parking garage just south of the main Y shaped building. That garage has been used for staff cars, renovations materials, RPF, and various other uses, no public parking when I was there. There used to be a push back in the 90’s to open it for public when parking was a big problem in the main lot. If you got there to close to 7:00 evening study time, you couldn’t find a parking spot. Also there is a parking lot directly east of the main building, (unless they built on it) that is also the cult’s. That is mostly staff and cult owned vehicles also.

    The only 11 floor building I know of is the Int Management building (Hollywood Guaranty Building) on Hollywood Blvd.

    A good portion of the Big Blue complex, particularly the main building and Lebanon Hall used to be berthing space as well as RPF space.

    Sea org staff in my experience were lucky to have a personal work space much larger than a standard desk. Most lived in berthing spaces with many other individuals, with personal space the size of a bunk and a footlocker. In my experience every nook and cranny was packed with file space, work space, back lines letter writer space and whatever. I think that 120 square feet facilities space per staff member would be HIGH, not low. Unless business has fallen off so much and staff levels are down quite a bit. A cube farm is like a savannah in comparison.

    Using conventional rules of thumb for space per person is sure to be in error when it comes to scientology.

    Also, files space and manufacturing spaces like possibly for PUBS is likely the only open spaces. Also note basement rooms are used as office space and work areas and sometimes berthing.

    I think there used to be 5000 sea org staff in the LA area alone.

    Except for LA Org, almost everyone else working for the cult in Hollywood is sea org. The figure of 600-800 I would think is way low.

    FLAG is different as I said above. Almost everyone at Flag is making money for the cult in some direct way. Accommodations and Hotel services, restaurant staff, Flag service org staff are all someway directly involved in servicing people or getting them arrived for service.

    So the amount per staff member that they make directly for the cult is going to be much different than the amount per staff in LA., much higher.

    Flag is above the other ‘advanced orgs.’ MOST of their services are only available at Flag. Usually you only get to Flag for services when you are on upper levels or have considerable money to spend on high-end services like the “L’s.”

    Re: staff eating space at flag. I know in LA, it was buffet with a large cafeteria and 3′ x 8′ tables with 6 to 8 staff eating at each table. About 4′ between tables and 4 tables shoved together end to end to make rows. It was in no way a typical restaurant setup. I doubt it is much different at flag, even in the new building.

    Re: income at flag. Making an estimate on “per capita earnings” is not going to work. Scientology has always been able to make people into driven earners turning over high percentages of wages to the cult. Those who make it to flag have already gone through the filter process. Low earners do not make it to flag. They are not going to be reflective of a per capita earnings average.

    If you are going to flag it is because you have done everything you can do locally and your only option is to do flag services, or you have a lot of money and choose to do otherwise local services at flag for the “prestige” or the “standardness” of it. So it is not an issue of class, but it being the only game in town or on the planet for the upper class of advanced scientologists. AOs don’t deliver anything above OT V.

    In my understanding a few weeks at Flag for 6 month sec checks on OT VII can be $25 to $50 K not including other donations for IAS and accommodations. The “Ls” can be multiple intensives of 12-1/2 hours at over $10K per intensive. Not including accommodations that people are required to pay for in cult hotels. Off base motel or hotel housing is not encouraged. That is why so many people moved to clearwater.

    Revenue is down, but perhaps not as much as you might think.

    I really doubt the claim of staff size is inflated. He might be keeping staff busy by moving them into the construction battalions as delivery drops off. The idea of doing much with little runs through scientology and going back into the renovations organization mindset is part of that.

    Re: Russian speakers at Flag. Flag has always had international clientele. It is the only one of it’s kind in scientology and has to deliver in multiple languages whereas this is not true in the rest of the USA. It is possible that in russia and other eastern european countries speaking fluently in multiple languages has resulted in many of them going to Flag when they join the sea org.

    Also, the pollution of the USA hiring pool by bad public PR and previous experience has probably cut the sea org recruitment way down. Making it easier to recruit vulnerable foreign nationals than it is to recruit 2nd or 3rd generation scientologists. Some database that tracks religious education or service visa activity would show some trends.

    Anyway, I hope my admittedly aged information helps supplement your knowledge base.

    1. John P.

      Michael, thank you so very much for the detailed perspective. This will be immensely helpful. I will clearly need to go back and re-think the LA staff size estimates in light of the additional information you’ve provided. I really appreciate your contribution here!

  17. aurora50

    Here is property search info on Big Blue:

    Property description: The property (AIN 5543016019) located at
    4751 Fountain Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90029 has 3 buildings with a total of
    93,990 sq ft (8,731.97 m2). This property is zoned LAC2. Individual
    building specifications are listed at the bottom of this page. The
    buildings at 4751 Fountain Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90029 are OTHER.

  18. aegerprimo

    I read this twice, maybe I missed it –
    John you did not take into account the Sea Org members working at Celebrity Center International (CCI) in Hollywood (Los Angeles).

  19. Elar Aitch

    My favourite post to date John, as much for the thought process as the information on Scientology. I am currently engaged in a difficult estimate based on sketchy data and the method of comparing different data sources to validate an estimate (or at least eliminate outliers) is very familiar. You lose me with finance but I get goosebumps at the relating of data sources and proxy measures.
    I am trying to estimate demand for needle/syringe exchange in a given location, given population statistics, likelihood of drug use from national surveys, existing supplies of fitpacks, prevalence of blood borne diseases and some other items, and have been struggling a little – the biggest unknown is the average injecting events per user, but I may be honing in on some data to establish this within a reasonable range. This has given me more confidence to be present the analysis with its gaps, being clear about assumptions and limitations.

  20. Jay Wood

    John, I posted an analysis of Jillian’s likely accuracy over at ESMB:

    In my opinion, she’s been too sheltered to give us a good headcount, but at the very least 40% of Flag, maybe up to 80% are Eastern European. In the absence of seeing the passports, I’m also inclined to think she has led too sheltered a life to tell one flavor of Eastern European from another.

    But I think the core message is solid – Flag now has a significant block of Eastern Europeans, trending towards a majority.

    As for other nationalities, Black Rob posts $CN Facebook entries over on ESMB. He asked me to take a look at the Russian ones (I spent 2 years in the USSR and speak Russian). I was able to identify a major Eastern European $CN presence as coming from Chisinau, the capitol of Moldova:

    They $cilons there are Russian or Ukranian-speakers, but the photos on the Facebook page show both Russian and Moldovan script.

    Her name is likely Ukranian in origin, but I don’t see any Ukranian on the books, only Russian (there is a vowel used in Ukranian that does not show up in Russian, so it’s really easy to tell the difference).

    1. DodoTheLaser

      I came from Moldova. There were few others, not many though.
      It’s mainly Russia, imo. Are you Udarnik? Anzhela was my student, btw.

      1. Jay Wood

        Yes, I am Udarnik on ESMB. Do you have an idea of the breakdown at Flag? I was simply being cautious based on the limited data we have from a source who is probably not equipped to differentiate one Eastern Euro from another. Was there an exodus from Russia following Putin’s crackdown? I know there are WISE groups in Slovenia and $cilon presence int he former Yugoslavia. Serbo-Croatian can seem like Russian to the untrained ear (especially if they are Serbs using Cyrillic)…

        1. DodoTheLaser

          Cool. I always enjoy reading you insightful and funny posts on ESMB! And yes, «Белый аист» used to be horrible. Lol

          I don’t really have the numbers, but from my personal observations of the Russian-speaking Sea Org and staff population in Denmark and US – the majority came from Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine. As far as Europe – Hungary and Italy used to be major recruitment pools.

          Concerning Flag, all I know is that there is an increase in Russian public doing the Super Power RD. Jillian on Tony’s blog said the majority of SO there are Russians too now.

          Not sure about an exodus from Russia re: Putin.

          Приятно познакомиться, Jay!

          1. koki

            hi dodo….

            also Macedonia is big …. (by big , I mean biggest in ex-Yu…) big hello to you….

        2. koki

          oooo, hi to all of you…..
          Macedonia is also Cyrillic … and they are “biggest” in $cio way , on ex-Yu territory…..

  21. Sunny Sands

    The church took out a building permit on 3/18/14 to build a $4 million building in a Clearwater office park, away from downtown. They bought this property at 2005 Calumet St. around the same time they bought the Lee Arnold building last September.(image refresh)

        1. aquaclara

          I looked it up. It’s across from the Scientology laundry facility, just off Hercules. They purchased this property last year, at the same time they bought the Superblock property across from the library.
          If you get a chance, the laundry facility is an interesting drive-by – there is a cult bus or two typically parked out back, fenced in (of course). The front of the building has a sign that says what it is.
          Just an educated guess, but I think it’s staffed by Sea Org (given the bus, plus the absence of any cars) and does the sheets and towels for all the hotel properties. On the Hercules side, you can see the air venting from the machines (dryers, presumably).
          No clue what the new building will be used for.

  22. aegerprimo

    I wanted to point out here are a lot more details in Jillian’s interview by Tony at the Underground Bunker today. The info of WHAT and WHERE her jobs/assignments (posts in Sciloon speak) – what they were in the Sea Org, all add validity to her statements.

    She was 18 when she signed the Sea Org’s billion-year contract and then was recruited to one of the Sea Org’s most exclusive divisions, the Commodore’s Messenger Organization. At that time, she says, one of the CMO’s divisions handled the financial network of the orgs. So for a few years, she was sent to Scientology churches around the state of California, checking on their financial health.

    But her father was concerned about Jillian being recruited to the CMO. It suggested that she was being groomed for some of the most sensitive postings in the organization.

    She was in the CMO and handled the financial departments of the Orgs. This would give her access to intimate info. She was being groomed for Int. Management (at Hemet). This would increase her exposure to Co$ statistics and overall knowledge of church workings.

    Then, after a few more years, Jillian was summoned to Flag.

    Jillian spent the next six years there…

    She was at Flag. She would not be stating what she knows about numbers of staff and foreign accents such as Russian/Easter Euro based on rumor or what others say. Her statement about this would be based on personal experience.

    …in 2012, she got a completely different, and somewhat baffling, new assignment. She was sent back to Los Angeles, but to Scientology’s major publishing arm, Bridge Publications. She looked for opportunities to talk with the workers…

    Then after that assignment she was put on the construction crew.

    She was at Bridge Pubs, and would’ve seen first hand, the scramble to produce the materials for GAT II. She gave an amount of time, and surely she could give more details on how many staff, what kind of hours, how many machines where printing and pressing, etc.

    Up until her construction crew assignment, she had access to, and could’ve been exposed to, a lot more intimate information about the Co$. Even the info in Tony’s blog article today gives a lot of valuable hints.

  23. BosonStark

    I’m mystified about a 79 year-old joining staff in Pasadena, is he the new breed of Scientology staff? LOL

    Does the cult think it is smart to keep the elderly man close so they can lock in his inheritance?

    I don’t believe Sea Org at Flag is even 10% Russian or Russian-speaking but it’s probably sliding to a higher % of international with fewer planetary collapse-fearing, LRH-fearing ‘mericans.

    One danger in enslaving more foreigners, although in general, they are probably more manageable and easier to trap, the ones who do go berserk, might really go all out, especially if they were deceived in being recruited. That is, if they were told they were going to have a nice apartment and lots of free time to go to the beach and Disney World.

  24. Missionary Kid

    I believe that the floor space available for use at Big Blue is much smaller than a more modern building. Corporations build their own office complexes is so they can make it a building best suit the operation of the company.

    While the old, recycled buildings that Co$ purchases may have a lot of square footage, I imagine operations are shoehorned into spaces just because the space is there.

    Big Blue, being a building built in the 30s, was abandoned by Ceders because it got to be too expensive to remodel. Traffic flow as well as aged infrastructure would make it dangerous and inefficient to continue operating (pun intended) there. Being built in the 30s, it not only used construction methods that and materials that are now considered dangerous, but I’m sure that the supporting structure takes up much more floor area than a modern building, (those thicker, heavier, walls and support structure wouldn’t be used today) and it probably doesn’t meet earthquake standards. It was built as a hospital, and no matter what remodeling was done, it probably is a pig for functionality. The design was literally set in concrete.

    In the 1930s, they used a lot more concrete and a lot less rebar. I’ll bet the structure is fine up to a certain strength earthquake, then it will collapse into a big pile of heavy rubble, unless extensive bracing was added.

    A more modern building could coule have been gutted and rebuilt relatively mor easily for efficient operation. Walls can be moved much more easily on modern buildings. Co$ decided that they could save money by using slave labor. I’m willing to bet they made a lot of compromises and avoided inspections or hid many of the changes they made.

    Miss B. Haven can correct me on all of this.

    1. aegerprimo

      I remember reading somewhere when I lived in Los Angeles (after surviving the Northridge earthquake) that buildings such as hospitals and schools where built to sustain earthquakes by the foundation being anchored in one corner, and the other three on rollers. I do not know if a hospital erected back in the 30’s (such as “Big Blue” ex-Cedars Sinai) would have been built with such technology.

        1. aegerprimo

          My husband who was a general contractor in California for many years, says the technology was probably developed in the 60’s. Either way, it was WAY later than the 30’s. Big Blue is probably riddled with damage. I guess the only reason it is still standing after being purchased by the Co$ is the Oatee Powerz of its members.

          1. Missionary Kid

            They didn’t start actually building with shock mounts until the ’80s as I remember. Because it wasn’t being operated as a hospital, Big Blue probably was not forced to upgrade.

          2. aegerprimo

            I believe you and am taking your word for it because I am too lazy to dig through any documents online. At this point the info is not relevant to the data points John P. is trying to collect (as far as I can see anyway). What’s relevant is your OP above about usable floor space vs. total square footage in buildings owned/used by the Co$.

          3. Robert Eckert

            I was in Yugoslavia in the 70’s and was told about major buildings rebuilt in Skopje (devastated by a major earthquake a few years earlier) with the roller-foundation technology, which was described as brand new (but of course, my enthusiastic informant wanted me to believe it was completely invented by Yugoslavians, and I had to wonder whether they were copying something done elsewhere).

          4. koki

            just lurking, and find this…..
            no , it was not invented by Yugo…. it was Japan architect who made it… Kenzo Tange.
            big hello…..

      1. Missionary Kid

        To add: I grew up in Los Angeles. The grammar school and junior and senior high schools that I went to, all built in the 20s, were all torn down and replaced with modern buildings. The walls were concrete, at least a foot thick. The problem was that the amount of steel reinforcing bar was totally inadequate. While I was in high school, they were doing core drilling into the walls to see how much steel was inside.

        I lived in another city that went to tear down a similar school, and they ran a huge Caterpillar tractor up and down the halls, and couldn’t knock them down. The mass of the walls actually works against them once they hit a certain point on the Richter scale. Earthquakes are far more powerful than Caterpillar tractors.

    2. ze moo

      Hospitals have a limited life, Joint Commission rules change and hospitals have to obey them. Keeping up with Joint commission rules are a major expense for medical and psychiatric hospitals. It is often cheaper to build new than rehab old buildings.

      Big Blue is white elephant that has been re purposed for office space. It is unlikely that it obeys current building codes, but old buildings like this are often grandfathered in to current laws. Insurance must be very expensive, if the clampire has any insurance at all.

      1. Missionary Kid

        Exactly. Well put. It’s a POS building that has no value to anyone else. The lot it’s on has value, but the building needs to be demo’d for anything to be done.

  25. ze moo

    Eric Falkow is on staff because it’s easier for Grampa Walton to suck out money then the usual regs. ‘If I can do without my cataract surgery, you can do without your Lexus’. Or Volkswagen or Chevy.

  26. Science Doc

    As of tonight the rules for media coverage of Scientology has changed and this could be very significant to collapse scenarios. Of course this has been evolving for several years, but the History channel just fair gamed them.

    1. ze moo

      Fair Game as a pr tactic, does not apply when you’re telling the truth. The History Channels ‘expose’ was good, it covered much of the backstory, but had little to say about the current crop of law suits and defections that GAT 2 has caused.

      You are right about the rules of media coverage. $cientology has achieved joke status all over the broadcast world. No one used to make fun of the clams in the past, now everyone does. There is safety in numbers, but blame the ineffective and toothless PR management of the clampire for most of that. Threatening to keep Tom Cruise or John Travolta off any channel that pisses off $cientology is not an effective threat these days. What other cleb clams can bring pressure to bear? Krustie Ally? Kelly Preston?

      The star studded stable of $cieno stars has burned down and no one will replace them. Being associated with the clampire has become the kiss of death.

  27. Chris Shelton (Galactic Patrol

    Hey John,

    I haven’t been in direct communication with you lately or posting here as I’ve been busy putting my own data point together on the subject of how big Scientology is these days. Guess the best way to share is to just link it, so here it is:

    I hope you find this information and direct observation from me useful in your analyses. I’m working on more videos right now and part 2 should be up in a few days. This video is the most relevant in terms of Scientology membership figures from the data I have.

    1. Anonymous

      This video is awesome…thanks for putting it together.

      May I recommend that you post it widely so it gets maximum exposure?

      Very well done!

      1. Chris Shelton (Galactic Patrol

        Thanks. I posted it in the comments on Ortega’s blog today and I’ve reached out to Rinder and the South African blog. We’ll see if they agree to link it. I also put it up on Facebook and on my own blog:

        If there are any other channels it can go out to, please let me know. :) I want to get this out on any channels where it might reach those still in or lurkers and get them to think a bit more about what they are involved in.

        1. Anonymous

          Looks like you’ve hit the high-traffic sites…saw it earlier also on ESMB.

          Have you put it up at and

          1. Anonymous

            I don’t spend much time either at or as they are pretty rough neighborhoods, but the information you present is stellar and demands the broadest exposure on the heaviest trafficked sites. Thanks again for the excellent video…looking forward to more.!

  28. Dee Fogger

    Not that I would ever try to replace one of the supermodels but smart is just so damn sexy. Great analysis. Thanks.

    1. aegerprimo

      Yeah, I mentioned below that the analysis did not include the Sea Org members at Celebrity Center International (CCI). CCI Org is a big money maker for the Co$.

      1. Lurkness

        For what it was worth, the again defunct, Celebrities and Human Rights blog said CCI was very downstate lately. The other LA Morgues were bringing in more GI than CCI–and that, as you recognize, would be a real problem given CCI’s historic cash cow status.


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