On the subject of Michelle Obama’s efforts to fight obesity, Michigan Daily columnist Dar-Wei Chen makes the false claim that no government official, not even Ms. Obama, “is trying to tell anyone how to live,” (‘Let’s move’ toward ‘socialism’, 2/13/11). Alas, if only this were true.

Chen may not be aware, but last November, the Food and Drug Administration proposed forcing cigarette companies to print pictures of dead and dying people on its products to deter smokers. Government officials in New York went a step further by requiring convenience store owners to post pictures of charred lungs and yellow teeth in shop windows. Opponents of the law sued on First Amendment grounds, it was struck down and the city appealed the decision.

What about Four Loko, the alcoholic energy drink that was regulated out of existence last year by the FDA? Government officials decided that no one should be allowed to consume the equivalent of a cup of coffee and a couple shots of Vodka. There’s also medical marijuana and its many users, who are still subject to federal SWAT team raids, even in states where the substance has been legalized.

But even if we remain within the bounds of Chen’s topic — obesity — we find prohibitionist government action. He might remember, for instance, the city of San Francisco banning McDonalds Happy Meals last year.

So not only are government officials telling us “how to live,” they are actively forcing us — at gunpoint if you’re the victim of a federal raid — not to drink, or eat, or smoke certain products.

Robby Soave is an alum and former Editorial Page Editor of the Daily. He can be reached at robbysoave@gmail.com.

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