Add another name to the “controversial Canadian” category (I’m listening to a conversation between Jordan Peterson and Stefan Molyneux as I type this): Elliott Jaques.

As a Millennial whose overly-earnest side is still libertarian, I’ve never been a huge fan of the bureaucracy. As I’ve spent time in medium and large university bureaucracies, I’ve come to despise them even more. When they grow dehumanizing, they grow evil.

Enter Elliott Jaques, a man who wrote a book called A General Theory of Bureaucracy. You’d think he would be a pallid, cardboard fragilista….but I’m not sure that’s the case.

So far, he has the hallmarks of being a truth-teller–polarizing and mostly despised in his field, and what I’ve read of his works so far has broadened my understanding of the universe rather than muddling it. He also cites entropy, much like Steve Keen in his forthcoming book on economics.

He’s also written a book that cites “social justice,” although to be fair he wrote it before the SJW cancer started to grow. We’ll see.

What I like about his thinking so far is how he has brought in the concept of TIME to hierarchies, and has drawn up a Platonic form of hierarchy. In addition to a worker’s ability to complete tasks, the different levels of jobs are defined by the time of their longest project.

Stratum I: These jobs might include shop floor operator, salesclerk, or general police officer; most work is routine, and supervision is commonplace for new tasks. Such jobs are good fits for “level one” people, who can cope with thinking about a time horizon of one day to three months.

Stratum II: First-line managers, shop-floor supervisors, foremen, proprietors of some small businesses, and police lieutenant positions have a felt-fair pay level of one-and-one-half times what a Stratum I employee might get. This job fits people with a three-month to one-year time horizon (who can handle assignments that take that long to fulfill).

Stratum III: Department heads, workshop managers, owners of multistore franchises, and police captains would make felt-fair pay that was three times that of a Stratum I employee. Stratum III managers typically know personally all the people below them in a hierarchy. Many professionals with high technical skill levels operate at this level, managing just a few people. People with a time horizon of one to two years can handle this.

Stratum IV: A plant manager, editor of a large media operation, lab manager, or any line leader with responsibility for diverse constituencies would earn felt-fair pay six times that of Stratum I. Appropriate time horizon: two to five years.

Stratum V: Positions at this level include large-company divisional executives, business-unit heads (at the vice presidential level), production directors, and CEOs of 5,000-employee organizations. Most “zealot” jobs are probably Stratum V positions. Felt-fair pay: 12 times Stratum I. Time horizon: five to 10 years.

Stratum VI: From here on out, the air gets rarefied. Positions include CEOs of companies with 20,000 people, or executive vice presidents and business-unit leaders of larger companies. Felt-fair pay: 24 times Stratum I. Time horizon: 10 to 20 years.

Stratum VII: Positions include CEOs of most Fortune 500 companies, high-level civil servants (like the Sir Humphrey character in “Yes Minister”), and other leaders whose decisions might (or should) be sweeping enough to take decades to fully realize. Felt-fair pay: 48 times Stratum I. Time horizon: 20 to 50 years.

Stratum VIII: The CEOs of General Electric Company, the General Motors Corporation, and other super-corporations have Stratum VIII jobs, with a felt-fair pay level 96 times that of Stratum I. If you are chosen for such a job, you’d better be one of those rare people (like Jack Welch) with an innate time horizon of 50 to 100 years, or your corporation will probably decline.

Stratum IX and higher: Now we move beyond the mere CEO level, to the geniuses who operate on behalf of society’s far future, or whose work embodies extraordinary complexity … for example, Christ, Buddha, Confucius, Mozart, Galileo, Einstein, Gandhi, Winston Churchill, and a few business leaders like Konosuke Matsushita and Alfred Sloan, who graduate from running Stratum VIII companies to looking out for society’s development. Most of us cannot count a single Stratum IX person among our acquaintances. And their felt-fair pay? Well, James Joyce spent his life in poverty.


I have so many questions about the influence of this guy. Is he the source of the time-preference theory that so many in the alt-right have applied to sociology instead of individual capacity? Has Donald Trump read him? How would he and Nassim Nicholas Taleb get along?

Or…is he just full of crap?

I’m reading one of his books. We’ll find out.