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San Bernardino Has Suffered Enough

John Marciano: Having suffered enough, why should the people of this community be expected to find the financial resources to pay for expenses incurred during the recent massacre?

On June 14, the Los Angeles Times stated that San Bernardino, the “once … sturdy, middle class ‘All-America City,’ is now bankrupt, the poorest city of its size in California, and a symbol of the nation's worst urban woes”

San Bernardino Shooting Costs

San Bernardino Has Suffered Enough—John Marciano

Today, December 15, the Times reported that San Bernardino “seeks help to pay … costs from the terrorist attack…. The city has incurred up to $1 million in unforeseen expenses — from the added cost of deploying police officers on extended shifts to responding to ultimately unfounded reports of new threats. City officials are now seeking help paying those costs and others that might arise from the shooting.”

Having suffered enough, why should the people of this community be expected to find the financial resources to pay for expenses incurred during the recent massacre?

Having suffered enough, why should the people of this community be expected to find the financial resources to pay for expenses incurred during the recent massacre? Could the lack of funds be due to San Bernardino’s paying for endless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq—and elsewhere?

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A few years ago Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard scholar Linda Bilmes estimated the eventual total cost of the Iraq War alone at some $3 trillion dollars. As reported in The Nation (March 2013), that figure has been revised, based on a new study of the two wars authored by Bilmes: The Financial Legacy of Iraq and Afghanistan: How Wartime Spending Decisions Will Constrain Future National Security Budgets.

The US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan may now cost as much as $6 trillion when all is said and done. Taken together, they will be the most expensive wars in US history. That comes to $18,467 per person, based on a US population of 324.9 million. This overall total includes long-term medical care and disability compensation for service members, veterans and families; military replenishment; and social and economic costs. The largest portion of that bill is yet to be paid. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars, therefore, will shape future federal budgets for decades to come, and thus have a profound impact on state and cities as well.

With a population of 210,000 people, San Bernardino’s share of these wars will be close to $4 billion. This huge resource loss to San Bernardino (California’s share is $717 billion), however, was not discussed in the June special report or today’s article. It is apparently off limits to ask why funds to pay for the police and fire department costs of the recent massacre, and to heal and rebuild San Bernardino, are not available, when they are so easily and excessively spent for endless wars on other communities abroad.

john marciano

John Marciano