Obama To Take Over Control of College Textbooks?

text-booksCandace de Russy over at National Review posted an alarming example of an Obama power grab. Or perhaps more precisely it’s yet another alarming example of an Obama power grab. This time Obama apparently is setting the table to take control of what is printed in our nation’s college textbooks.

This one slipped past my radar in August of 2009, but apparently Barack Obama signed the Federal Textbook Act (Download .pdf file) that made provisions for the federal government to take control of the pricing and availability of the text books in our institutions of higher learning (at least the ones that take federal funding).

According to the language of the act, it is all about keeping textbooks affordable for students.

Purpose and Intent- The purpose of this section is to ensure that students have access to affordable course materials by decreasing costs to students and enhancing transparency and disclosure with respect to the selection, purchase, sale, and use of course materials. It is the intent of this section to encourage all of the involved parties, including faculty, students, administrators, institutions of higher education, bookstores, distributors, and publishers, to work together to identify ways to decrease the cost of college textbooks and supplemental materials for students while supporting the academic freedom of faculty members to select high quality course materials for students.

Sounds good, right?

Maybe not so much.

National Review quotes George Mason economics professor Donald J. Boudreaux as saying that this act seems to be “a first step toward federal oversight of the contents of college textbooks.” As proof he points specifically to section C, the publisher requirements section.

(C) A description of the substantial content revisions made between the current edition of the college textbook or supplemental material and the previous edition, if any.

Why does Obama’s overlords need to know what revisions have been made to a textbook? This act is supposed to be concerned with pricing and availability, not content… isn’t it?

Of course, we all know that once government gets its tendrils into your business it takes all power away from you and reassigns it to government. So, once this act is implemented, any federal money involved will give government the opening to begin controlling everything in the process of creating and distributing college textbooks.

As prof Boudreaux points out, if people are upset over the recent newfound control that the conservative leaning Texas textbook commission had over new textbooks, then how upset might they be if the federal government takes over our college textbooks? There should be no difference at all in the reaction if it was really government control that was being opposed.

Naturally, its always about whose ox is being gored with liberals. Texas textbook control: baaaaad. Obama textbook control: gooooood.

I would also point out one other thing. Many professors in our nation’s colleges and universities have hit the lottery by writing textbooks for their own classes, books that their university will then adopt as the “official” textbook for class work. These professors make a tidy sum of money on these expensive, small print run books that their captive student audience is forced to buy. It would seem to me that this Federal Textbook Act could easily eliminate this lucrative but under-the-radar source of income for professors everywhere. Not that I am against that, but it is something for those lefty profs that so love their Obammessiah to think about.

This bill was originally signed in 2008 by President Bush and was introduced by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin. It took effect this year during Obama’s presidency. But regardless of who signed it — and this shows that Bush was as bad as Obama for his love of big government — it is a bad idea to allow the federal government to get involved in the production of text books.


  1. @Katie Don’t believe the hype about corporate America robing the American public. The truth is this is tactic is being used to blind side the American public. Blame the rich while the Govt. hands out 80 million entitlement checks. Each one carrying a vote for a President who doesn’t care one cent about the truth or the American people. Think about it. Why turn the population away from the American dream, being you’re our boss, starting a company, being the one percent. These people take massive risks employ 80% of our people and most take very good care of their employees. Business has automatic checks balances in supply and demand which dictates price. Gouging happens but not as often as you think and is normally corrected by things like competition, supply and demand. Do your own research and find out why test book really cost what they do. And Katie; I bought text books too and paid the bill as part of the price of the privilege to going to school. You are much better off trusting business then Government is almost every case. Business caters to the people while todays Government is about a vote. I am so sad to see so many of our youth with similar view point to your own. You are truly the brain washed generation. Here is the best advice you will ever get….Free is not free so before you except it, you better ask yourself what are you willing to pay for it.

  2. As a senior college student who has worked in two college bookstores, (a junior college and a student co-op university bookstore) a major issue in the college textbook pricing has been the issue of publishers selling one edition only to “revise” the text book every other year or so without adding any new information. The “revisions” are typically the rearrangement of certain information or the removal/addition of inconsequential information. The previous edition is taken out of commission as “outdated” and the new (ever more expensive) edition is forced in.

    In addition to this fact, it has been my experience over the course of 5 years in institutions of higher learning that at least 90% of my instructors and professors have done everything in their power to help students find cheaper alternatives to price gouged textbooks. This includes selecting specific chapters we will be working with to make into a one print book that will cost the student $20 instead of $50 to $200.

    If the American government (with at least a semblance of checks and balances) doesn’t control the textbook industry, the government of corporate America WILL. And as a college student that has to work with a given list of required textbooks, I have no way to vote for or against the acts of corporate America, an institution that has no obligation to the well being of a nation, other than the nation of their own pocketbooks.

    Ideally, it would be best to have less government involvement, but when its a case of one government over another, I’m going to vote for the one that at least pretends to care about the citizens, when I know the other one clearly doesn’t.

  3. Everything Obama says sounds good, that’s the way it’s planned. If you look back at all the lies he’s told, you have to wonder who would believe this man anymore. It seems he’s the darling of the liberal news media, he can do no wrong. If George Bush did just some of the things Obama has said or done the press would have crucified him. He even had the aducity to show up on Fox news. Trying to brainwash our small kids, changing college textbooks? What’s the big deal this socialist President couldn’t care less about our views the Constitution or the Democratic party, look at all the politicians he threw under the train with his health care bill. This President is a narcissist (look it up) he only cares about himself and his goals, nothing else matters. I wish we could impeach him but I doubt that will ever happen. If we still have an election in 2012 maybe we can vote him out, he may have become a full fledged dictator by then.

  4. I don’t know how he thinks he can keep on top of everything. Does the guy think he actually is God or something?

  5. Thanks for the Heads UP!!!

    How else can we know about this and increase our awareness of our shrinking world !!!


  6. I can’t imagine a better way to make enemies of his allied liberal minded college professors than to tell them how to teach their specialized subjects. Is this where the mathematics books will redefine the value of pi?

  7. Obama will be training the College students to be his progressive army! Since the federal government will be in charge of student loans, these students will pay the federal government back by 5 or 10 yeats of work in government jobs! They will be slaves of Obama—or part of his “civilian arm”! Very scary!

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