Jim Rockford in the days of decent denominations

Posted On: Saturday - April 30th 2022 4:23AM MST
In Topics: 
  TV, aka Gov't Media  Economics  Inflation

The full service station in The Rockford Files episode "The Great Blue Lake Land and Development Company":

Peak Stupidity has had so many posts about the 1970s TV show The Rockford Flies, already that it could have its own topic key. I won't make that one, but I will surely have more about this show, not as a Rotten Tomatoes review thing, but the times shown in the show - nearly 1/2 a century ago - bring up some points. In this case, after watching the episode "The Great Blue Lake Land and Development Company:" from Season 2*, I noted something interesting - it's about currency.

I noted something about the cash money that Jim Rockford had on him and subsequently stashed and found missing, which was bail money for someone in Los Angeles, as he was on a trip out in the California desert.

This is a not a plot recap, but I will mention that I am disappointed in the believability of this part of the show. Sure, I mean, it's not that believable when small planes crash and immediately blow up, or that Jim Rockford has had his Pontiac Firebird run off the road and smashed up countless times but he still drives it, and the paint looks pristine, that sort of thing. No, this is just a WTF kind of beginning.

Jim had a problem with his Firebird (sand in the fuel line, hey, wait, that's another thing ... I'm no mechanic, but I sometimes play one on the internet ...), so he had to spend a night in a small town there in the desert. Now, he had that $10,000 bail money on him in a small envelope (more on that - that's the post, actually!) Yet, he made all this effort to find a safe to put it in - there was no bank in the town, but that "Blue Lake" development company had a safe. It got "misplaced", and that was the basic plot.

Hold on, hoss! Jim Rockford, something of a con artist himself, had to have known that his money was safer on his person, especially in that era of easy anonymity and nobody getting to know where you are if you don't want that. Why put it in the hands of unknown people in this small desert town? There's no reason he'd do that other than to start up a plot line. Then, even weirder, with that Firebird temporarily running very smoothly, he followed the guy who supposedly put the money in the safe home. Why do all that? Stay in the motel room with the money - nobody in the town knows you've got it.

OK, I had to get that off my chest, but here's what I noticed to suggest this post - well, it was mentioned and shown a number of times. Jim Rockford had that bail money in the form of 10 $1,000 bills. Now, I'd recently explained to my 10 y/o how there used to be one thousand dollar bills, five thousand dollar bills, ten thousand dollar bills, and even one hundred thousand dollar bills. Yet in the day they were printed and circulated, they were worth a whole lot more than they would be now.

Why was the one thousand note taken out of circulation, and more importantly, why has it not been brought back, now that the highest denomination we have, a Benjamin, gets you what a twenty would gotten for Jim Rockford that day? A couple of "Century Notes", per terminology in this Hoyt Axton song from the time (1979), would have bought what a 2022 "Millennium Note" would buy. What I also told this boy recently, is that these $1,000 bills must have been taken out of service pretty long ago, before my time of knowing about money. (OTOH, my family would have never had one on us anyway.)

Well, I just looked up an article about these bills from Business Insider that tried it's best to explain to me "Here's why we stopped using $1,000 bills". I don't buy it, not for a measly Century Note.

First off, regarding the TV show in question, the article writer, Janet Nguyen of marketplace.org, notes these facts:
The U.S. stopped printing the $1,000 bill and larger denominations by 1946, but these bills continued circulating until the Federal Reserve decided to recall them in 1969, Forgue said. [Forgue is Dennis Forgue, a numismatist.]
That's weird then, how Jim Rockford had thousand dollar bills, even 6 years later. He seemed to think they were pretty normal. Here's the primary explanation of the reason these bills were taken out of circulation:
Forgue said President Richard Nixon thought these denominations would make it easier for criminals to launder money, which then led to his order for their elimination.
Yeah, right, it's always the drug dealers fault, and we all gotta pay. That's the excuse for lots of Totalitarian and Orwellian stuff, it seems. Then:
Plus, turns out churning out $1,000 bills just wasn’t very cost efficient. To produce them, you’d have to go through the trouble of engraving new plates for very small production runs, Wittmann said. Running off a lot of $1 notes is more cost efficient than producing comparatively few $1,000 notes, he added.
Well, OK, maybe the excuse flew in 1969, but it doesn't fly now. I think lots of people could use these bills, rather than carry much bulkier stacks of Benjamins or, worse yet, Jacksons. You'd have quite the production run.

Other excuses made in the article are the counterfeiting threat (well, nobody seems to care about the 20's anymore, so we just move up a little) and then how electronic payments are "more convenient". As the Church Lady said, yes, "How convenient!!"

It's worse for the Chinese, back before they went full Orwellian with the phone payments. When it was a "cash is King" country, only a decade back, the highest denomination in China was (and still is, if people would take cash) the Chairman Mao-faced 100 Yuan note. That was, and still is** about 15 bucks.

For all the countries of the world, not just America and China, the evil Globalist elites want lots of control of the population, and the use of cash is not conducive to that effort. That's why they don't want to go to higher denominations. In China, you'd have to wear cargo pants with loaded pockets to carry a serious sum, enough to buy a nice car or a house. Here, one need carry only 1/7 as much paper around, but it's buying less and less quickly. Once you have to start using a wheelbarrow or golf cart to carry enough of it to buy anything, cash is really not King anymore.

As for Jim Rockford, stuck there in the California desert for the night, cash in a useful denomination, privacy, and anonymity had to have been pretty nice.

PS: Ha! I just remembered, from an episode right before this one, that Jim Rockford pulled up to the full service gas station (there was no self-serve then, I don't think) and asked for "three dollars worth". What kind of milage would that Firebird have gotten - 20 mpg on the highway and 15 mpg on the LA streets? These shows were filmed in 1975, between the gas "crunches" of '73 and '79. It'd have been 50 cents a gallon or so, so that 3 bucks would have filled the tank only half-way and got him not much more than 100 miles. They might have been trying to show that Jim was low on money. He often was.

* For completeness' sake, or lack thereof actually, I will note that I could not watch parts of 2 and 2 other full episodes of Season 2, as the disk from the 'brary is not in good shape. The 2 I couldn't watch at all were called "Gearjammers", Part 1 and 2. That's a real shame, because I like the character Rocky, Jim Rockford's Dad, and the trucking theme likely involves him a lot.

** The Chinese government pegs the Yuan to the US Dollar to keep the exports cheap. Our inflation becomes China's inflation - our biggest export - but I don't know for how long they'll keep this up.

Mr. Anon
Tuesday - May 3rd 2022 8:54PM MST

@Adam Smith

"I hope you have a great day, Mr. Anon."

Thanks. You as well, Mr. Smith.
Adam Smith
Tuesday - May 3rd 2022 9:04AM MST
PS: Greetings, Mr. Anon,

Some people are attributing "The best way to rob a bank is to own one" to William Black, likely because he wrote a book with that title.


I do imagine that someone else said it long before 2005.

Your quote, "The best way to rob a bank is to be a Senator from Delaware" is quite apropos.

I hope you have a great day, Mr. Anon.

Mr. Anon
Monday - May 2nd 2022 11:38PM MST

@Adam Smith

"Biden, the senator from MBNA (a Delaware corporation).
Many large corporations prefer to be registered in Delaware."

There's an old saying that "The best way to rob a bank is to own one". I forget who said it (looked for the quote, but couldn't find it), but I seem to recall someone once having said "The best way to rob a bank is to be a Senator from Delaware."
Adam Smith
Monday - May 2nd 2022 9:58AM MST
PS: Good afternoon, Mr. Moderator,

Glad to hear you and your family arrived home safely.

“I'm no geologist by any means, but could it be that the platinum fraction of the Earth's crust is in a form more difficult to extract or deeper down?”

I'm no geologist either, but your hypothesis seems plausible, even likely. Maybe there are just fewer mines digging platinum out of the earth. Or perhaps some countries have more of it than others (Russia), complicating the supply chain.

“You'd think the price ought to be 30 x higher, but there's the industrial use thing you mentioned.”

I added up the numbers on these two charts...
(Mine production of gold and platinum from 2010 - 2021)


Total gold production for 12 years = 35770 Tonnes
Total platinum production for 12 years = 2201 Tonnes

So, they extracted ~16x more gold than platinum over those years. With such a smaller supply and it's industrial use I'd imagine the platinum market would be more volatile. I'd also think that the price would be higher than gold. (I didn't add up the numbers for silver, but you can see that silver production is much higher than gold production. Even still, the silver market is more volatile than gold because of it's industrial demand, despite being extracted in much greater quantities.)


“Platinum is used in the ubiquitous catalytic converter, hence it's price determines the chances of yours getting cut off your car...”

Apparently, platinum is the preferred catalyst for diesel engines while palladium is the preferred catalyst for gasoline engines. The Volkswagen diesel “scandal” has turned customers and “government” bureaucrats away from diesel and towards more gasoline powered cars, driving up the price of palladium.


The next generation of catalytic converters could have longer lifetimes and need fewer rare materials to operate, a new study suggests.

It's not just the platinum and palladium that converter thieves are profiting from, but also the very expensive rhodium. (I'd also imagine that in some places stealing a converter really isn't even a “crime” anymore thanks to certain jurisdictions not prosecuting theft under $1000, thus emboldening converter thieves.)

I agree that the average American couldn't tell the difference between silver, platinum and palladium. At least for now, until the SHTF, the average American on the street would probably prefer to be given a tasty candy bar wrapped in silver colored foil over a free bar of silver, platinum or palladium.


Thank you, Mr. Anon, I didn't know that about credit card companies.
They really turned the term deadbeat upside down.

Biden, the senator from MBNA (a Delaware corporation).
Many large corporations prefer to be registered in Delaware.


Your forbes article is interesting, Mr. Moderator...


Like so many other decisions by the supremes, the Marquette decision (in 1978) was yet another that screwed Americans by essentially killing the prohibition on interstate banking and state usury laws. Coupled with Delaware's low tax rates for large banks and their corporate friendly court of chancery, this has setup Delaware as the home of the majority (maybe all?) of the credit card companies.

Monday - May 2nd 2022 4:01AM MST
PS: Must have been tired ... I was writing about Capitol One, one of the big purveyors of CCs, but they are in Maryland. Then, I came across the Forbes article, but forgot to wipe out my other text. Sorry.
Sunday - May 1st 2022 8:26PM MST
PS: Yep, I'd heard that from someone, Mr. Anon. It's ironic, but it does make sense from their end. Yeah, I believe it's Delaware where that Capitol

Yep, from Forbes, here,


"Thumb through the credit card offers filling your mailbox, and you might notice a theme: Many have a Delaware return address. That’s no coincidence.

Delaware is home to the credit card businesses of Chase, Discover and Barclaycard U.S., according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Bank of America and Citi also maintain certain card operations there. Together, those issuers represent about half of the U.S. credit card market. Meanwhile, Delaware residents account for only 0.3% of the U.S. population."
Mr. Anon
Sunday - May 1st 2022 8:16PM MST


You know what the credit card companies call people who pay off their cards every month? This is no joke, this is the term they really use. "Deadbeats". Yes, if you pay your bills on time every month, they call you a "deadbeat". Because THEY aren't making any money off of you.

By the way this is the same business that was a big backer of Senator Biden and for which he did many political favors.
Sunday - May 1st 2022 2:57PM MST
PS: Mr. Anon, about the debit cards, they must not have had them for a while into the 1980s. I had a credit card for the sole purpose of ordering things over the phone. I'd have rather had a debit card from the get-go, because I not only didn't want to borrow money, but I didn't like that if I forgot to mail a check in one day, I'd get dinged.

I used to overpay for a while, and for whatever reason, they didn't like owing ME money, so they'd send a check.

My Dad, not being the early adopter type, asked me a few times to buy things over the phone for him, and he'd send me a check.
Sunday - May 1st 2022 2:51PM MST
PS: Mr. Smith, yes, we arrived safely after about a 4 hour trip that should have been 3:45, but for our old-time navigation practice. Thanks.

Regarding the 1st discrepancy, I'm no geologist by any means, but could it be that the platinum fraction of the Earth's crust is in a form more difficult to extract or deeper down? You'd think the price ought to be 30 x higher, but there's the industrial use thing you mentioned.

Long ago, the Zerohedge commenters would explain that, yes, the more industrial uses a metal had, the more volatile the price AND that it was less good as a form of real money. That started the silver v gold arguments. Platinum is used in the ubiquitous catalytic converter, hence it's price determines the chances of yours getting cut off your car (I've not experienced this, luckily, but read about it). Are they using less material now or something? I don't know enough about it.

Platinum is silver colored, like over 90% of the metals, so is it that the average person couldn't tell silver from platinum during the SHTF? We are not there yet, though, and for the current collectors/real money people, there are spectrographic methods and others.
Mr. Anon
Sunday - May 1st 2022 1:20PM MST

That's an interesting point about getting cash. Prior to the ATM, you had to go to a bank to get cash, and banks had even more limited hours then than now. I suppose there may have been some businesses where trusted customers could write a check for an amount over their purchase and get the balance back as cash. I seem to remember my Mom doing that at our local grocery store.

The first bank account I got was in 1982 and, as I recall, most ATMs were located on the outside of the bank they were affilliated with. So you still had to go to the bank to get cash, but the bank didn't have to be open. And the debit cards (called "check cards") weren't accepted anywhere but at ATMs; you still had to pay with cash or check at the supermarket. I don't recall seeing a debit-card payment machine at the supermarket checkout until '87 or '88.
Adam Smith
Sunday - May 1st 2022 1:07PM MST
PS: Happy Sunday, Mr. Moderator,

“Maybe that one's more volatile? But why?”

I'm under the impression that industrial metals are more volatile than gold because most of gold that has ever been mined from the earth has been turned into so called “Good Delivery” bars and is currently sitting in central bank (and other) vaults. Industrial metals like silver and platinum fluctuate with the economy. (Supply and demand style.) I also think there is some misinformation or misunderstanding surrounding the amount of platinum available. For example...

“Platinum is 30 times rarer than gold because of its low concentration in the Earth's crust.”

“Platinum is a naturally occurring chemical element that is actually about 30 times rarer than gold, according to Jenny Luker, president of Platinum Guild International USA (PGI), a marketing organization for the platinum jewelry industry.”

Which seems to be at odds with this...

74 Platinum - Pt - 0.0030 - 0.0037 - 0.005 (0.0000005%)
75 ...Gold.. - Au - 0.0011 - 0.0031 - 0.004 (0.0000004%)

Which is correct? I don't know.

What is so special about platinum?

“Around 1,500 tons of gold are mined every year, while only 150 tons of platinum are mined annually. That makes platinum much rarer than gold, and is another reason why it’s valued more highly.”


“Like gold and silver, platinum is traded around the clock on global commodities markets. It often tends to fetch a higher price (per troy ounce) than gold during routine periods of market and political stability simply because it's much rarer. Far less of the metal is actually pulled from the ground annually.”

These last two quotes seem to be closer to reality here in meat space...


Unless I'm mistaken, platinum is (generally) the more valuable of the two metals, especially if we're fortunate enough to return to a “routine period of market and political stability”.

Half price platinum seems like a good deal to me.
But, who knows. It's hard to tell the future.

I hope your travels were smooth and enjoyable and that the rest of your weekend is awesome!

Sunday - May 1st 2022 1:03PM MST
PS: Good point, Mr.. Ganderson, about the availability of cash. Th/e money machines came on line in the late 1970s. Of course, like the rest of us, Jim should have had at least a few dimes and nickels in the ashtray* - after all, he was always using pay phones (sometimes, he may have "borrowed" the dimes off of Beth Davenport. Anyway, I've dug into the ashtray before for that extra 1 or 2 gallons worth.

Wow, 1/2 the price of the car has got to hurt. For Adam, that was an ever worse break! I had a weird incident with a local towing company a year or more back and may have written a post about it. I'll look it up.

Going way back, this local towing company got my car once and motorcycle twice (legitimately, I have to add) within a few months. 2 out of the 3 times, I was able to get on/in the vehicle and ride/drive out in broad daylight. The voice messages I got were ... interesting. I had half a mind to call them back and say "you'd damn well better have my bike/car! Y'all are responsible for it." I didn't have that much never - just glad to save the money.

* Or did he smoke? I think I remember he did sometimes, but I'm not sure.
Adam Smith
Sunday - May 1st 2022 11:45AM MST
PS: Happy Sunday, Mr. Ganderson,

Thanks for your story about the Lincoln Park pirates...


Once upon a time I bought an old Toyota Camry for $100 without a title and slapped one of my home made photoshop temp tags on it. It was a good little car. It had a rebuilt motor, was good on gas and low maintenance. It was clean and in pretty good shape for it's age. I never had trouble riding around here in the mountains.

But then, one night, I made the mistake of staying at a friend's apartment in Atlanta where I parked it in the apartment complex's parking lot. Come morning my car was gone, stolen by some unscrupulous towing company. When I went to retrieve my car they informed me that without a title they couldn't release the car to me. I suppose I could have fought harder to get my car back, but at the time it just didn't seem worth the hassle. Probably would have cost more to buy the car back from the thieves than I paid for it.

Sunday - May 1st 2022 8:15AM MST
Gearjammers is (are?) a good episode. What I've always said about Rockford is that the plots are a bit hackneyed, but the dialog is always sparkling. Also, too, Mr. Moderator- in those days cash was not always easily available- and much more widely used- Jim may have gone to the gas station and discovered he only had 3 bucks on him- he perhaps couldn't get any cash until the next morning when the banks opened.

I got towed on a Saturday night in Chicago in 1978 by the infamous Lincoln Towing (the "Lincoln Park Pirates" of Steve Goodman fame); I had to come up with $75 cash to get my Plymouth Valiant that I had paid $150 for out of their yard- I still don't remember how I came up with the cash.

Also , Jim getting his car fixed was an ongoing thing in Rockford.
Sunday - May 1st 2022 5:40AM MST
PS: Yeah, I hadn't kept up with Platinum, Adam, but I see it is barely 1/2 of the gold price now. Maybe that one's more volatile? But why? Somebody's whim, as you suggest, as with diamonds which are a real scam and nothing like precious metals, IMO.

From what I've heard from a coin shop guy, whenever the spot price gets on a local low, you can't actually get any of the coins for near that price. (Ex, your $31 silver coins at Apmex.)

BTW, on this browser - Safari, on an iPad, once you enter any text in either these 2 text-areas (YOUR NAME or Comment), you can no longer copy text to paste elsewhere. I will check later on Firefox on a Windows-based computer.

Yeah, the great evening is past, but it should be a good morning too - got to hit the road for a few hours. Enjoy your Sunday.
Adam Smith
Saturday - April 30th 2022 9:54PM MST
PS: Good evening, Mr. Moderator,

“...Jim was low on money. He often was.”
It ain't cheap keeping that paint pristine when you're constantly crashing your ride.

More seriously, isn't platinum (supposedly) more valuable than gold?
Is the platinum jewelry industry lyin' to us about it's (supposed) scarcity?


And what's up with the premium on metals these days? Interesting times.

Cheers to a great evening, Mr. Moderator.

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