It’s only in recent history that the military sniper has been regarded with esteem. For much of their history, snipers and their craft have been regarded with suspicion --- if not outright hostility --- particularly by those who view surprise attacks as dishonorable. Due in part to the cold efficiency with which snipers ply their trade, they were often treated with a mixture of fear and distaste by their peers, and if they ever fell into enemy hands, were frequently executed rather than captured.
Now, however, public perception is shifting as more and more people view shots fired in combat in terms of lives saved, rather than taken. From the story of Scottish marksman Patrick Ferguson who decided not to fire on an unknown enemy officer --- George Washington --- during the Revolutionary War, to Chris Kyle’s service in Iraq, the history of the sniper is full of stories about when to take the shot and when not to.
President Donald Trump hands a pen to Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie during a spending bill signing ceremony at VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System, Friday, Sept. 21, 2018, in Las Vegas. (Associated Press/Evan Vucci)
The Trump administration wants to shift billions of dollars from government-run veterans' hospitals to private health care providers. That's true even though earlier this year the administration vehemently denied it would privatize any part of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The privatization of essential government services is nothing new, of course. Over the years, countries have privatized dozens of services and activities that were once the sole domain of governments, such as the provision of electricity and water, road operations and prisons and even health care, with the ostensible aim of making them more efficient.
But before going down that road, the question needs to be asked whether privatizing essential human services such as those for military veterans serves the public interest. New research we recently published suggests that privatization may come at a social cost.
The Coast Guard is officially shit outta luck for a paycheck thanks to the government shutdown, which means that zero coasties have been paid to create some of the amazing memes being shared as a way to vent their frustration.