If there is one thing that is simply remarkable about the book, The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible, it is the writing style: simple and interesting even as it deals with a heavy topic from hardcore economics to the free market.
Jonathan Gullible is a young sailor who lands on an island and has some strange experiences. Sounds familiar? Right. It reminds of the books all of us have read in our childhood. And that is the beauty of the book.
In each chapter Jonathan encounters people engulfed in certain situations. This the author, Ken Schoolland, compares with the absence of a free market and reasons how free market is the answer to all the travails.
Take for instance the chapter in which he comes across a woman who invents a device (a metal piece attached to a wood) to cut a tree.
But the woman is punished for it. The reason: On the island, people cut a tree by beating it by sticks. This gives employment to hundreds of persons and keeps them engaged for months cutting a tree.
|The adventures of Jonathan Gullible: A free market odyssey Ken Schoolland; Academic Foundation; Pp 256; Rs 295|
But with the product made by the woman, the work can be accomplished in a couple of hours engaging just a couple of persons. So, her crime was to make a product that renders so many people unemployed. Exactly like the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and in India, the case of computers vs clerks.
Other chapters range from subsidies to taxes and even democracy. Each reminds us of the various forms of curbs and ploys adopted internationally to secure the interest of one section, always at the cost of another.
One might rightly argue that real life is usually not about such simple situations. One cannot afford a totally free market and let the market forces determine everything but that is another story altogether. One may or may not buy the arguments encapsulated in the book, which is, nevertheless, a magnificent attempt to explain the subject.