This One Won’t Come Down Without a Fight

By Steve Miller

It’s too bad that so many different interests have chosen to exploit the tragic shooting in Charleston, South Carolina as an excuse to ban the Confederate flag from display in public buildings. Some blacks think it promotes hate and racism. White politicians have jumped on the band wagon because it will get them black votes. Everyone’s in it for something.

As the flag of the old American South comes under attack for being a symbol of racism and bigotry, we should look beyond the symbol to find the roots of racism and hatred.antenna flag 2

Old Glory is every bit as much a symbol of racism as the Stars and Bars. There were slaves in the United States when the country was founded.  Slavery remained legal until 1863 – and not just in the south. Northerners enjoyed buying tobacco and cotton at rock bottom prices because there wasn’t any labor cost for planting and harvesting. Slavery was just as prevalent in the industrial north as it was in the agricultural south.

After the Civil War, United States military units were still segregated. Jim Crow “separate but equal” laws flourished in modern-day America until the 1960s under the Stars and Stripes. Black Americans didn’t even get the right to vote until 1965 were kept “in their place” until long after the Confederate flag represented little more than something used to decorate the red Dodge Charger in the Dukes of Hazzard. Continue reading

Read my Lips: If it Don’t Move, Tax it.

by Steve Miller

Over thirty-five years ago, Arizona voters passed a measure that put a one percent cap on property tax. Knowing from experience that our elected political heroes at the county level would tax the population out of existence if given the chance, voters did what they could to make sure this didn’t happen. Own a home worth $150,000? Your tax bill won’t exceed $1,500 per year. Simple as that.

If the actual cost of services exceeded that amount, the state picked up the tab. Not anymore. Now, without a cap in place, the county gets to charge whatever they feel like they can collect from the property owners. Oh yeah, I have heard it put this way:

Taxes“Ducey and the Legislature decided to eliminate that cap, which basically passes that additional tax burden to cities and counties”.

That’s pure, unaltered, USDA approved bovine fecal matter, to state it nicely. Tax is tax. The state keeps what they’re already getting, from whatever sources. They give less of what they receive to the counties, which then decide to get it from the homeowners, now that the cap on property tax has been eliminated. See how that works? Continue reading

I want my phone call – Now!

by Steve Miller

The “one phone call” subsequent to an arrest is just another urban myth.  Generally, the arresting agency will allow you to make at least one phone call after being taken into custody. You do have a constitutional right to an attorney and in order to obtain counsel, a phone call is usually necessary to make this happen. That’s what gave rise to the urban myth – that and the fact that the right to one phone call sounded really cool written into a Hollywood script.jail phone

The Tenth Amendment states that anything not specified in the Constitution shall be delegated to the states for litigation and regulation. Since communication incidental to an arrest isn’t a constitutional guarantee, it’s up to the states to put any protections in place.

Now, while you don’t have any guarantees to a phone call under the US Constitution, largely because telephones didn’t exist when the Constitution was ratified, you do have rights under state law in all fifty states. Some states even specify the amount of time, usually a couple of hours, within which a call must be allowed.

Why is this important? Continue reading

Amateur Radio Parity Act -HR 1301. Let’s Pass This Thing!

by Steve Miller

There are several ways to get the attention of your local political heroes.  One is to be a reporter with some hint of a scandal.  Another is to be a Capitol Hill lobbyist.  Or, you can be a campaign contributor with a fist full of dollars.

antennaYet another way is to write a letter.  Yeah, I know that doesn’t sound too dramatic and it won’t make the six o’clock news, but at the least the member of Congress will be told about it.  Plus, you will usually get a nice signed reply on official letterhead.

So why write?  Antennas.  A chance to stick it to the HOA and the city zoning officials who think antennas are ugly.  It’s a chance to show the establishment that aluminum in the sky is not only fun for the radio amateur, it could benefit the community in time of emergency when the cellular system and computerized police radios go quiet.  People need to know this.  Congress needs to know this. Continue reading

Who Said Anything about Ethics?

By Steve Miller

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton is a total jackass.  Not only is his blatantly opportunistic attempt to lure the Phoenix Coyotes away from Glendale uncouth, it could even be illegal.

Untitled-1First of all, I am not a sports fan. It’s probably because I was the skinny, uncoordinated kid in PE who never got picked for the team.  I was usually mandated to one team or the other after everyone else had been picked… me and the fat kid who carried a rescue inhaler on a string around his neck.  I think giving a full boat scholarship to some jock with a room temperature IQ while a gifted student has to work three part time jobs to get the medical degree that may enable him to cure cancer, is a waste.  The dufus goes pro and ends up with a multimillion dollar contract and retirement at 32 while the doctor struggles to pay off a student loan.  I know, it’s a general stereotype, but I know it wouldn’t be if it didn’t happen – a lot. Continue reading

My Mother Told Me Not To Talk To Strangers…

… so I got into ham radio. I didn’t do it out of a sense of rebellion and it didn’t happen overnight. There were several key events that guided me toward what would become a lifelong hobby of talking to strangers.

dont talk to strangersNot only did I talk to strangers across the country, I eventually talked to them on other continents. However, as the ham radio culture would have it, they didn’t stay strangers for long.

It all started when I was a kid, maybe 12 or 13, walking through the back alleys of Bellflower, California with my grandfather. He loved to look for pop bottles, which could bring a bounty of three cents each. Four of them could get you a gallon of gas. They were a valuable commodity that made it well worth the humiliation of digging through someone’s trash. Continue reading

The Sun’s Energy is Free — Until it Gets to Maricopa

By Steve Miller

When Electrical District No. 3 was formed in Pinal County, Arizona, in 1926, solar energy was still pretty much science fiction. In fact, the Rural Electrical Administration, part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal didn’t come into existence until 1935. At that time, only ten percent of rural America had electricity; ninety percent of the urban population did.  That’s because privafante corporations wouldn’t enter the rural market if there wasn’t any profit in it for them.

If you lived in Arizona in the 1920s, your best hope for relief from the summer heat was an electric fan – if you had electricity. Today, air conditioning in most of Arizona is considered absolutely essential. Along with the demand for electricity comes the price to obtain it. For most homes, it’s the most expensive utility.

While the US Government was trying to electrify the Tennessee Valley through the controversial TVA, there was already a solar solution in the works, albeit expensive and impractical. While the concept of the solar cell began in the mid-nineteenth century, the abundance of coal and petroleum made it an overly expensive solution. It didn’t get a lot of consideration until the Arab oil embargo in 1973. Suddenly, with gas jumping to an outrageous ninety cents per gallon, solar energy became of great interest. Continue reading

School’s Out (of touch)

by Steve Miller

The incident in this story happened in Denver but it has happened everywhere. I remember when my kids were given a peanut butter sandwich, which had to be obtained from the school nurse, because they forgot their lunch money. Here we have a story about a school district whose solution to a problem was to fire the worker rather than fix the

Della Curry, a cafeteria worker in an elementary school in a Denver suburb, has been fired for giving free food to students who didn’t qualify for the federal free lunch program.

The mother of two admitted to KCNC-TV, which first reported the story, that she violated school policy by giving the free meals but said that she didn’t want to see the children go hungry. She’s hoping her case will change district policy.

Personally, I am grateful for people like Della. Too bad the professionals in this case, charged with the children’s well being at school, don’t share her compassion. Continue reading

Nothing to Hide?

by Steve Miller

Today the Associated Press released a story saying that the FBI is operating a small air force with scores of low-flying planes across the country carrying video and, at times, cellphone surveillance technology – all hidden behind fictitious companies that are fronts for the government.

Eye PyramidWow. Really? The government is actually spying on its own citizens not just through mass data surveillance but literally watching them from above?

The story goes on to say that the planes’ surveillance equipment is generally used without a judge’s approval, and the flights are used for specific, ongoing investigations. The FBI said it uses front companies to protect the safety of the pilots and aircraft. It also shields the identity of the aircraft so that suspects on the ground don’t know they’re being watched by the FBI. Continue reading