PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

Man on the Moon: July 20, 1969

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, JULY 20, 2011) — Today marks the 42nd anniversay of Man on the Moon. Neil Armstrong planted his lunar boots into green cheese and botched his lines with the first words. THE PLANET vividly remembers the”one, small step for [a] man.”  We watched the landing in the evening, on our Motorola Color TV, and thrilled to the sight. The Eagle had landed.

In the years to follow, American went back to the moon so many times it became as ordinary, though not as corrupt, as Pittsfield politics. There are those who still maintain that the event was staged, that NASA hired Stanley Kubrick to film the moon landing. THE PLANET doesn’t believe that at all. We know Sam Peckinpaugh filmed it for the Space Shots at Cape Canaveral.


Debt Compromise or Crisis: How Much is a Trillion Dollars?

So, what’s it going to be then, eh? Will it be compromise or collapse? Will the debt ceiling be raised or will the United States of America default on its fiscal obligations?

If you think about it, raising the debt ceiling is rather like a junkie taking more heroin to ease his withdrawal symptoms. He temporarily solves the problem of his discomfort by injecting more of the substance that has caused his difficulties in the first place. Allowing a default compares favorably with going cold turkey. The consequences are almost too painful to contemplate, yet the treatment takes care of the underlying cause of the addiction.In the long term, cold turkey provides the best option for the person’s health.

Yes, THE PLANET recommends letting the country default. In doing this, we do not minimize the consequences, which will be large. The country’s bond rating goes down, outside money stays away, and … and, God forbid, America will have to start living within its substantial means.

No, Gordon Gecco. We Is Not Good

America has been debt-addicted since the 1980s, as the central banks flooded the monetary system with oceans of new money, dollars not pegged to value but allowed to float nebulously on nothing more than trust. The decision to keep raising the debt ceiling to its current amount proved the promises behind that new money to be worthless. No one seemed bothered by this. Thus, we took what could have been a much more manageable problem and kept making it worse by raising the debt limit.

The nation, states, cities, and individuals indulged in the reckless spending that fake “prosperity” of the new money seemed to guarantee. Easy and endless “free” money in the form of borrowing caused speculation. Speculation bred bubbles. Bubbles burst.

You need only look at the high tech bubble of the early 2000s and the housing-real estate-mortgage bubble of the remainder of the decade until the September 2008 collapse for illustration.

Gang of Six Attempts to Rumble with the Problem

The latest attempt to grapple with the looming Aug. 2 default deadline involves the passage in the U.S. House of Representatives of a bill that would government spending slash $6 trillion and constitutionally require a balanced budget. The White House promises to veto the plan while it backs a more modest Senate compromise spurred by a bipartisan group called the Gang of Six.

Who’s right. Where does it go? Wall Street voted for the compromise. Yesterday the Dow soared 202 points. The debt ceiling would be raised above the current 14.2 trillion debt ceiling.

Part of the problem is how desensitized we have become to how much $1 trillion represents. So, how much is $1 trillion? Look at this, taken from

A packet of one hundred $100 bills is less than 1/2″ thick and contains $10,000. Fits in your pocket easily and is more than enough for week or two of shamefully decadent fun.


Believe it or not, this next little pile is $1 million dollars (100 packets of $10,000). You could stuff that into a grocery bag and walk around with it.

$1,000,000 (one million dollars)

While a measly $1 million looked a little unimpressive, $100 million is a little more respectable. It fits neatly on a standard pallet…

$100,000,000 (one hundred million dollars)

And $1 BILLION dollars… now we’re really getting somewhere…

$1,000,000,000 (one billion dollars)

Next we’ll look at ONE TRILLION dollars. This is that number we’ve been hearing so much about. What is a trillion dollars? Well, it’s a million million. It’s a thousand billion. It’s a one followed by 12 zeros.

You ready for this?

It’s pretty surprising.

Go ahead…

Scroll down…

Ladies and gentlemen… I give you $1 trillion dollars

$1,000,000,000,000 (one trillion dollars)

Notice those pallets are double stacked.
…and remember those are $100 bills.

So the next time you hear someone toss around the phrase “trillion dollars”… that’s what they’re talking about.



  1. Jeffrey Turner
    July 20, 2011 at 10:56 am #

    Ho hum. Can you show us a picture of the over 300,000,000 people living in this country? One trillion dollars only amounts to a little more than $3000 per American. Not even 1/3 of your first stack of hundreds. What’s that, your property tax bill down in Stockbridge? Or not quite. It’s not quite the average for Stockbridge.

    Maybe you should default on your mortgage, that would teach you not to borrow so much for a fancy place down in Hoity-Toity-ville.

    Get out of economics, Dan, it’s over your head. Tell us some nice baseball stories.

    • danvalenti
      July 20, 2011 at 1:44 pm #

      Appreciate the feedback. VILLA VALENTI has no mortgage, by the way.

      • Jeffrey Turner
        July 20, 2011 at 9:11 pm #

        You married money, eh?

  2. Jeffrey Turner
    July 20, 2011 at 11:16 am #

    Come on, Dan, you’ve got lots of Red Sox Nation out here, they’re used to tales of a perennial runner-up,

    • danvalenti
      July 20, 2011 at 1:52 pm #

      The Red Sox will win the World Series, but it will happen without THE PLANET’s coverage.

      • Jeffrey Turner
        July 20, 2011 at 9:11 pm #

        I was talking about Buddy’s Bozos.

  3. Eric Vincelette
    July 20, 2011 at 11:43 am #

    Great visuals Dan and good point Jeffery. However, on this subject I would have to disagree with you on Dan. Back to your original analogy of the heroin addict going cold turkey. If the addict is on life support already and barely hanging on, then it goes cold turkey and dies, in that case, this strategy would not be the best to follow. And that is the state of affairs STILL in this country. Unemployment still above 9%, banks and corporations sitting on Trillion$ of cash, income disparity at an all time high, foreclosures and bankruptcies at an all time high. And the last thing we need is another, “Lehman Brothers ” moment in the market, interest rates to rise….you cannot “cut” your way out of a recession, which we are still in, regardless of what the talking heads say. You also cannot print and spend your way out either. We must find our way out by a combination of both revenue increases and cutting wasteful spending. Revenues must be raised, yes I mean taxes on the wealthy and corporation must have loopholes closed. We have to start our spending cuts by looking at the bloated Pentagon budget first. A middle road, with a reasonable approach is the way we find our way out.

    • danvalenti
      July 20, 2011 at 1:51 pm #

      “IF” the heroin addict goes cold turkey and dies. That is exceptional. The vast majority, more than 90%, kick Horse.
      To point out the trillions of cash banks and corporations are sitting on only reveals my point: the element of greed is THE driving factor in economics. No matter how you slice it, even that “reasonable approach” you offer, the Imp of the Perverse that lies in the human heart, especially the economic heart, will turn reform into nightmare.
      Agree: Can’t print and spend your way out of massive deficit.
      Disagree on raising taxes on the wealthy.
      Agree: Close loopholes for corporations (better still, revise the US tax code and eliminate 95% of the pages)
      AGREE!! (capitals and exclamation points) Eviscerate the Pentagon’s budget. Restrict military spending strictly to national security.

  4. Jeffrey Turner
    July 20, 2011 at 1:29 pm #

    Of course you can borrow and spend your way out of a recession. It was called World War II. But I agree with you about taxing the rich and cutting the military.

  5. Payroll Patriot
    July 20, 2011 at 2:39 pm #

    Dan, please send me one full pallet.

    to others
    How many poor corporations and poor people create jobs?

    Would you like all the jobs at General Dynamics to disappear as a result of defense cuts?

    • Jeffrey Turner
      July 20, 2011 at 3:15 pm #

      `Lots of poor people create jobs. Give ’em a little money and they spend it. Someone gets hired to make and/or sell the stuff they buy. On the other hand, rich people don’t create many jobs. Are you some rich bitch’s pool boy?

      • Joetaxpayer
        July 20, 2011 at 3:42 pm #

        How many poor people own companies,not many.Poor people should earn there money,most dont want it given to them.Rich people own companies and do create jobs.

        • Jeffrey Turner
          July 20, 2011 at 9:12 pm #

          Owners don’t create jobs, customers create jobs.

          • Joetaxpayer
            July 21, 2011 at 6:01 pm #

            Owners create customers

    July 20, 2011 at 2:41 pm #

    Qnly one way to get out of this Fire OBAMA!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Jeffrey Turner
      July 20, 2011 at 3:18 pm #

      You’re a bloody genius. Try not to scrape your knuckles when you walk.

  7. browning
    July 20, 2011 at 5:46 pm #

    Agree with the posts who understand that “rich” people create jobs by virtue of their wealth. They don’t get wealthy out of nowhere. They create wealth through capitalism. Leave the rich alone. Tell much (not all ) of the “poor” to get off their derrieres and get into the ecomony. GO Planet!!

    • Jeffrey Turner
      July 20, 2011 at 9:09 pm #

      So you think when a rich person gets enough money they just hire someone? Another effin’ genius. How many feet of ditch can you dig in a day?

  8. Eric Vincelette
    July 20, 2011 at 6:17 pm #

    @DV and others…So by extending tax cuts for the wealthy THAT is going to help create jobs?…NOT…Since the cuts have been enacted By Bushy Boy , all that has happened is piles and piles of cash has been built up on the balance sheets of corporations and those of the ultra wealthy. Im not talking $250k earners, I’m talking, I have a few corporate jets, and my employees who polish the crome on my seat side, jet liner spitoon, pay a higher tax rate than me…Why would Buffet, Gates and the like agree that taxes should be raised on they and their crew…
    NOOOOO lets make the majority of the cuts dig into the bone and onto the backs of the already bedragled middle class, who lost the majority of their nest eggs, haven’t seen a raise when adjusted for inflation for 30 something years, are underwater in their homes, are unemplyed or underemployed , who are facing bankruptcy or foreclosure in the Purposely Created “BIG SHORT” Mortgage Crisis, that was one of the , if not THE, biggest transfer of wealth EVER…Wall Street Created that mess knowing full well what was going to happen to homeowners and the middle class, in fact they BET it was going to happen, made money on that bet, then got bailed out, made money on that too…
    This is a BIG play for absolute TYRANNY by the GOP…let their ultra wealthy friends off easy and stick it to the little guys again…ALL created by a game of chicken, called the DEBT Ceiling, which they probably bet on to mess with the market and drive President Obama out of his second term…
    Here’s the bottome line…The far right and even most of the right wing of the GOP are a bunch of heartless, greedy bastards, who don’t give a lick about anyone but the wealthy, but have hidden their message under the cloak of fiscal responsibilty and hoodwinked their FOX news drones and the left wing of the Dems are a bunch of pansy, no spine, no discipline, no leadership taxologists….thems the facts as I see it from the ‘hood in Lenox…The Lenoxologist

    • danvalenti
      July 20, 2011 at 7:28 pm #

      Face it, though. Your advocated “moderate” compromise solution will only end up in putting off the day of reckoning. Then the debt ceiling, therefore the debt, will be massively higher. What virtually no one wants to admit is that there’s no painless way out of this. The “moderate compromise” is the most illusory, since it eases the pain short term only to continue to pile it on for down the road. If THE PLANET were being selfish, we’d say great. But the fact is, unless we address the structural nature of the deficit (continuing to spend more money than we’re taking in), the solution will be doomsday.

      • Jeffrey Turner
        July 20, 2011 at 9:16 pm #

        The “structural” nature of the deficit is that the wealthiest one percent are taking home almost a quarter of the nation’s income. And they’re paying half the taxes they did 40 years ago. If you want to balance the budget you have to emulate Willie Sutton and go where the money is.

    July 21, 2011 at 6:30 am #

    yep have them pay all and you Jeff pay nothing and have all the time in the world to bitch about everyone and everything, get a job

    • Jeffrey Turner
      July 21, 2011 at 9:10 am #

      It’s only your billionaire masters who don’t have to pay anything, C. But they’ve shipped all the jobs to Asia.

  10. Joe Blow
    July 21, 2011 at 8:21 am #

    Eric,what happens when you run out of other peoples money?

    • Jeffrey Turner
      July 21, 2011 at 9:08 am #

      I love your originality. No wonder you make the big bucks. ROFL.

      • Joetaxpayer
        July 21, 2011 at 6:32 pm #

        step away from the kool-aide

        • Jeffrey Turner
          July 22, 2011 at 5:24 pm #

          It’s a good thing I’ve got a top-of-the-line irony meter. Did your health insurance cover your lobotomy, Joe?

  11. JahnDoh
    July 22, 2011 at 6:27 pm #

    When the rich are given huge tax breaks they do not hire more employees, they simply keep the extra money for themselves. A company only needs x amount of employees, giving the owner or corporation more tax breaks just means you’ve made the rich richer. When are people going to start understaning that? I am speaking from experience by the way – I do not go by what the pundits on any channel say. When the big shots at my company rec’d those nice George Bush tax breaks they mades sure to downsize us so they would meet certain financial criteria and get larger bonuses. Anyone who thinks tax breaks = more jobs is either ignorant, stupid, or lying.