Chart of the Day: “Current Military Spending Is Lapping at Historic Highs, Not Lows.”

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Remember chained CPI? It’s every conservative’s favorite measure of inflation. The government’s statistical boffins like it because they say it measures inflation more accurately, and conservatives like it because it reduces future Social Security inflation adjustments. Everyone likes it!

Since it’s so popular, Winslow Wheeler decided to apply chained CPI to historical Pentagon spending. The result is the green line in the chart below:

In a nutshell, what this shows is that even after the recent decline following the drawdowns in Iraq and Afghanistan, defense spending in 2015 will still be higher than it’s been in the entire rest of the postwar period, aside from a single year at the height of the Reagan buildup. This is especially remarkable considering that in 2015 we won’t be fighting any wars and we won’t have a single major military competitor anywhere on the globe.

Should we measure defense spending instead as a percentage of GDP, as the Pentagon itself likes to do it? That’s appropriate for some things, but it’s really not here. The fact that our GDP has grown doesn’t make the country any more expensive to defend. Nor is this an example of Baumol’s disease, since we’ve considerably reduced the number of people in the armed forces over the past two decades.

Basically, we spend a boatload of money on defense, and the size of the boat has been steadily rising for more than 50 years. Policywise, Wheeler’s conclusion is pretty simple: “Current military spending is lapping at historic highs, not lows.”

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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