Michael Friedman, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist specializing in how social relationships influence mental and physical health

Originally published at psychologytoday.com. Reprinted with permission of the author.

Substance dependence is the only mental health condition whose main feature, the possession of drugs, is considered a crime. The stated goal of the "War on Drugs" has been to stop the devastating public health consequences of addiction in part through criminalizing possession of drugs, even for nonviolent offenders. While well-intended, this war may have worsened the problem by dooming millions of people, predominantly minority and low-income individuals, to a cycle of incarceration, loss of rights, and poverty. But, there are hopeful signs that we are becoming more clear-eyed as a nation. 

According to the Monmouth University-Asbury Park Press poll, Democratic Senator Cory Booker leads his Republican challenger, Jeffrey Bell, by 20 points. In that same poll, it also showed that Senator Booker has a 43% favorability rating. This is not good. The poll also showed that fully 15% of Democrats say they would vote for a third party candidate, and that a third of voters are saying that it is time for a change.

This presents a great and golden opportunity for Libertarian Senatorial candidate Joe Baratelli to make headway. If Baratelli can tap into voters discontent and tap into the 15% of disenfranchised Democrats, and some Republicans, he can give both major party candidates a run for the money. But he needs help from his party, libertarians, and supporters to help him get there. I hope that they can give all they can in any capacity that they can. It should be remembered that if they want to win it, they got to be in it.

If ever there was a time and an opportunity for New Jersey Libertarian candidates to make inroads, 2014 would be that time. In every poll taken on numerous issues, Americans are coming to embrace libertarian positions. Younger voters nationwide believe that neither the Democratic nor the Republican Parties represents the American people. Seventy-two percent of voters say they would be better off if most incumbents were defeated in November. Eighty-one percent do not trust the federal government most or nearly all the time. Polling also shows that seventy-nine percent want to cut federal spending, fifty-two percent say that their tax bills are too high, and fifty-eight percent favor legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana and fifty-two percent of Americans also revealed that they oppose foreign interventions in other countries and that the U.S. should stay out of other nations quarrels.

When he ran for the presidency in 2008, Barack Obama was treated like a rock star by the mainstream press. Here was a candidate that was new. Here was someone who was articulate, good looking, with a nice family and a beautiful and adoring wife. Barack Obama campaigned as the candidate of “hope and change.” He campaigned as a candidate that would “fundamentally transform the U.S.” He also campaigned as a “healer” and a man that would “transform politics.” After more than five years in office, it has become apparent that not only did the mainstream press sell the public a bill of goods, not only was the image that they presented of Barack Obama an illusion, but that his presidency has been an utter and abysmal failure.

Memorial Day provides the political class countless opportunities to ruin an otherwise thoroughly enjoyable holiday weekend.  Like clockwork, local congressmen, mayors, city council members, et al. materialize at parades, picnics, and churches to give speeches about “freedom.”

But what does freedom really mean?

Just as we should repudiate Junk English in economics, we should demand precision when it comes to the language of political posturing! In other words, we should insist that politicians use defined terms (I’m not holding my breath).

In essence, freedom is the absence of state coercion. Nothing more, but certainly nothing less.

Dr. Ron Paul explains this coercive reality behind those invoking freedom while advocating state action:

Few Americans understand that all government action is inherently coercive. If nothing else, government action requires taxes. If taxes were freely paid, they wouldn’t be called taxes, they’d be called donations. If we intend to use the word freedom in an honest way, we should have the simple integrity to give it real meaning: Freedom is living without government coercion. So when a politician talks about freedom for this group or that, ask yourself whether he is advocating more government action or less.

Taking this definition a step further, Hans-Hermann Hoppe describes a free society as the absence of aggression against one’s body and property:

There’s a ‘Heck’ of hypocrisy in Chris Christie’s call for disability pension reform during his State of the State address.

“Our pension system is burdened by some who collect disability retirement because they claim they are ‘totally and permanently’ disabled, but are now working full-time,” said New Jersey’s governor, ignoring the problem in his own office.

Adam J. Heck, one of Christie’s state lawyers, has collected a $110,000 salary plus nearly $45,000 a year in tax-free disability retirement checks from the state.

At age 28, Heck retired as a Middletown Township police officer in 1993. He was struck on the hand with a hockey stick while responding to a domestic dispute, according to state pension records.

Heck is one of 18 ‘disabled’ state employees who double-dip $2.2 million a year – $1 million in tax-free accidental disability pay plus $1.2 million in salaries – named in a New Jersey Watchdog investigative report last year.

Yesterday, I wrote about the burgeoning Chris Christie scandal (please don’t call it #bridgegate), involving the apparently retaliatory nature of several lane closings on the George Washington Bridge last September. Christie was accused of creating a traffic jam to get back at the mayor of Fort Lee, a Democrat who declined to endorse him in his re-election bid. Christie initially laughed off the allegations, claiming the lane closures were part of a “traffic study.” My original first line for that blog post was “Governor Chris Christie may have shown how Jersey politics can rival the Chicago style,” but I excised it because, well, the scandal was about Christie, not President Obama.

Read the full story on Reason's Hit and Run Blog...

Free-market Capitalism has helped a great many people who have been poor and down and out, move up the economic ladder, move up in mobility and has fostered the creative power and genius of individuals far better than other economic system that has existed and failed such as socialism, communism, fascism and feudalism. Capitalism as a system is not, nor it has ever been, a four letter word as some people would have us believe. However, what is an abomination to free-market capitalism, and freedom overall, is crony capitalism.  

Crony Capitalism (Or State Capitalism as it is also called) entails government enacting laws, rules, regulations, tax monies and favoritism to one business over another. For example, if a small pharmaceutical company had founded a medicine to cure cancer and went to the Food and Drug Administration to get it approved, a bigger company with vast resources, money and lobbyists can influence am FDA bureaucrat or a politician to sit on the approval for years or reject it entirely. Another example would be when a regulation is enacted that forces smaller companies into compliance so that bigger companies do not face head to head competition. Or, when tax monies are given to companies because they are politically favored or to keep these companies afloat so they do not have face situations like bankruptcy or reorganization when the market is not to their liking.

Crony Capitalism, State Capitalism, is the norm in countries such as Argentina, Communist China, France, Italy and, sadly, the U.S. If people should be outraged and angry that anger should not be directed at Capitalism, but at governments the choose winners and losers. By showing no favoritism of one entity over another, society, freedom, the economy and free-markets can flourish. It is only when Crony Capitalism occurs that everything stays stagnant and stale. When government practices economic neutrality, equality of opportunity can bloom, and that is what real capitalism is all about.