About the Book

The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible tells the story of a boy who becomes shipwrecked on an unfamiliar island after being swept out to sea in a storm. Having previously lived in a relatively free society, in this new strange land he experiences culture shock as he learns of bewildering laws and traditions of the island’s inhabitants. The story highlights the absurdities of the laws, the controls imposed on people’s lives, and the economic drawbacks of these laws.

The laws highlighted are recognizable as common to many countries throughout the world. As the story unfolds, the part individuals in society play in political decision-making and personal responsibility is introduced for discussion.

Commentary Edition

The original book includes many subtle nuances to the principles explored. To assist readers and educators in more easily understand the meaning of the story, a commentary edition which features relevant commentary and background information to accompany each chapter was created with the guidance of Janette Eldridge. These commentaries are meant to provide only the gist of each issue and books and websites are recommended for further research which makes it particularly useful for projects and debates.

The UK Commentary is available for purchase or as a free PDF download (right click and select save as)

Why have several hundred people and more than forty public policy institutes and organizations around the globe produced or promoted a couple hundred thousand copies of JG in 71 published editions in 47 languages?

Satire

Satire has always been used among intellectuals throughout the world to circumvent censors and to send messages without triggering resistance. The book and film “Hammer and Tickle” asserts that humor helped bring down the Soviet empire. Is satire still useful? I believe so. It is sometimes necessary in order to get past the censors in Iran, in China, and even in many local American school boards that are hostile to free markets.

One case of effective use of JG was in Hong Kong. When Hong Kong was being transferred from British to Chinese authority in 1997, people in Hong Kong worried that many economic freedoms would be lost. Thus Joy Shan Lam Kung, editor of The Hong Kong Economic Journal, serialized the book as a way of sending a veiled message to a sophisticated audience.

Business and Academia

The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible: A Free Market Odyssey originated as a series of economic and political commentaries for KHVH, an all-news radio station catering to the business and professional community in Hawaii. Response to my weekly economics commentaries was at zero until I tried satire along the lines of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels.

The response was electrifying.

The book has since been serialized for business and academic communities with The Boss magazine in Nepal and the Keizar (Economic) Seminar journal in Japan. Assen Kanev, founder of the Bulgarian Free Market Institute, reports that during serialization of the book in SEDEM Weekly, the newspaper rose in circulation from 10,000 to 20,000 during the run, helping to make SEDEM the second largest weekly newspaper in Bulgaria.

There was so much interest that Assen arranged an interview with me on Radio Free Europe to expound on the philosophy. The book has now been published in two editions in Sofia, becoming a regular reader in both government and private schools.

Dimitrios Malamoulis explained the success of the Greek edition in the daily newspaper Neos Typos of Volos, “As you already know this is a local newspaper with limited circulation, however the response was very high and they estimate that the newspaper circulation increased by at least 25%. The response gave us new courage, we are already in discussion with the newspaper of Athens Kathimerini, which is the most prominent and old newspaper of the center-right with the second highest circulation of the country, second only to the liberal Ta Nea.”

Theater, Animation, Film, Internet

One’s first impression of the book cover illustration in some editions gives the feeling that it is for a younger audience. True enough. The book has appealed to youth, just as did Gulliver’s Travels. Yet many of the editions have been published without illustrations, targeting the business, professional, or academic audiences in Korean, Italian, German, Bengali, Mongolian, Sinahalese, and the two UK Commentary English editions for the Commonwealth nations, published separately in South Africa and India.

The theme of the story is useful for introducing free market lessons in an inoffensive manner and has been successful in circumventing the mullah censors of the Farsi (Persian) edition in Tehran. It has also been successful with the Urdu edition in Lahore and the Chinese edition in Shanghai. It was one of the first free market books published in St. Petersburg, Russia.

JG has been endorsed by Milton Friedman, Walter Williams, John Stossel, Steve Forbes, Mark Skousen, Fred Foldvary, and Walter Block, as a useful tool in promoting free market economics. The book has been used at the undergraduate level in economics classes at San Jose State University by Prof. Terry Easton, Santa Clara University by Prof. Fred Foldvary, and others at the Buffalo campus of the State University of New York.

Prof. Ali Massoud uses the English edition of his book in his Economic Law class of 500 students at Asiut University in Egypt. Ali said he will order the new Arabic edition, sponsored by the CATO Institute in Jordan, for his 5,000 introductory economics students every year.

Stage plays have been produced from the book in three countries: Kenya, Slovakia, and Nigeria.

Olokesina Peters Ijagbenu wrote this review of the play in Nigeria that was based on the book, written and produced by Adedayo Thomas & Paul Ugbede and directed by Dr. Sam Kafewo at the Drama Village, Ahmadu Bello University this past summer. The play is currently touring various countries in Africa.

“We were pleasantly surprised when the play started and the audience sat in rapt attention, following its message and even comparing images and symbols to the contemporary Nigerian situation. For instance, when one of the lords said that a house was not built according to specification and had to be demolished, the audience chorused the name of Nasir El Rufai. He was the immediate past Minister of the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria who became infamous for demolishing ‘illegal’ structures in his bid to return the city of Abuja to its original master plan.

“The audience members were unanimous on the three nights that the play should go beyond the four walls of the University and should be taken to the authorities in Abuja who perpetuate the problems enunciated in the play.”

An animated film short has been produced from the epilogue of the book, The Philosophy of Liberty, that is being viewed in 44 languages on dozens of sites on the internet. We next hope to develop a movie version of the book.

What’s Missing in Education?

What’s the importance of a new approach to economics?

  1. Economics is usually not taught from a free market perspective, and
  2. Economics is usually boring.

The Economist magazine bemoaned this saying:

Why has economics not done better? Economists tend to blame others for being too lazy or too stupid to understand their textbooks. There is doubtless something to this. Economics is hard to teach well. To the uninitiated, its basic principles often seem surprising or odd.

But the economics profession itself also deserves much of the blame. Crucial ideas about the role of prices and markets are the first ideas that politicians and the public need to grasp if they are to think intelligently about public policy, and the fact is that they are not widely understood.

Smith’s Wealth of Nations conveyed this sense that the market, for all its ‘failures’, is a marvel. Today precious few textbooks even try to guide their readers to any such inspiration. (Economist, April 19th, 1997)

Jonathan Gullible is intended to remedy these problems in all levels of economics education. Surveys of my own university economics students show a very positive level of interest.

In the Spring of 2005 three Principles of Macroeconomics classes were surveyed to determine how the students reflected on the general level of interest in 1) general college textbooks, 2) economics textbooks, and 3) the The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible: A Free Market Odyssey.

Survey of Student Interest

Student response All texts Econ texts JG
Very interesting 0% 2% 61%
Somewhat interesting 35% 27% 34%
Not very interesting 47% 41% 5%
Very dull & boring 18% 31% 0%

Students rarely find standard college textbooks to be very interesting. Indeed, two thirds of the students have a negative opinion of these texts. On the other hand, ninety-five percent of the students had a positive opinion of the Jonathan Gullible book and only 5% held a negative opinion.

One student, Stuart Hayashi, wrote saying, “Thank you, thank you, thank you for that wonderful book!! It was very refreshing to read a book so logical, entertaining, and enlightening. The story may be set in a fantasy world, but the situations involved come way too close to reality. Again, thank you for the wonderful book!” Read more reviews…

About the Author


Ken Schoolland is presently an associate professor of economics and Director of the Entrepreneurship Center at Hawaii Pacific University. Prior to this he was the Director of the Master of Science in Japanese Business Studies programme at Chaminade University of Honolulu and head of the Business and Economics Programme at Hawaii Loa College.

Following his graduate studies at Georgetown University, he served as an international economist in the U.S. International Trade Commission, the U.S. Department of Commerce and on assignment to the White House, Office of the Special Representative for Trade Negotiations.

Ken left government for the field of education, teaching business and economics at Sheldon Jackson College in Alaska. He also taught at Hakodate University in Japan and wrote Shogun’s Ghost: The Dark Side of Japanese Education, which has been published in English and in Japanese.

Ken is a member of the Mont Pelerin Society, President of the International Society for Individual Liberty (ISIL), a member of the Board of Scholars for the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, and is a Sam Walton Fellow for Students in Free Enterprise (now called ENACTUS).

Awards and Endorsements

Endorsed by economists and media: Milton Friedman, Walter Williams, Steve Forbes, John Stossel

  • Leonard E. Read Book Award, 2002, for Excellence in Economic Education,
    Foundation for Economic Education, Irvington-on-Hudson, New York
  • Leavey Award for Excellence in Private Enterprise Education, Leavey Scholar 2001
  • George Washington Honor Medals for Economics Education & Public Communication
    The Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania
  • Book of the Month, November 2001
    Insituto Liberal, RS, Porto Alegre, Brazil
  • Freedom Book of the Month, September 2001
    Free Market.Net, Henry Hazlitt Foundation, Chicago
  • Students in Free Enterprise, top 15 national finalists,
    Free Market Economics Month Special Competition, 2003, Kansas City

Adopted by public policy institutes for translation, publication, distribution, or recognition:

  • Center for Free Enterprise, Seoul, South Korea
  • True Individual Value Alliance, Seoul, South Korea
  • The Korea Hayek Society, Seoul, South Korea
  • Doimoi Institute, Hanoi, Vietnam
  • Samriddhi Prosperity Foundation, Kathmandu, Nepal
  • Carantania Institute, Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • Freedom Institute, Jakarta, Indonesia
  • PAFERE, Polish American Foundation for Economic Research and Education, Warsaw, Poland
  • Friedrich Naumann Foundation, Potsdam, Germany
  • CATO Institute, Washington, D.C.
  • Misbah Al Hurriyya, France
  • Bray-Conn Foundation, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • New Economic School, Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia
  • Institute for Privatization & Management, Minsk, Belarus
  • Mises Institute, Minsk, Belarus
  • Inter Region Economic Network [IREN Kenya], Nairobi, Kenya
  • The Ludwig von Mises Institute of Romania, Bucharest, Romania
  • Instytut Liberalno-Konserwatywny, Lublin, Poland
  • Instituto Liberal, Porto Alegre, Brazil
  • Liberty Institute, New Delhi, India
  • Centre for Civil Society, New Delhi, India
  • Liberilibri di AMA srl – Macerata, Italy
  • Institute for Market Economy, Sofia, Bulgaria
  • Agroinform Kiadohaz, Budapest, Hungary
  • Liberalni Institut, Prague, Czech Republic
  • Albanian Center for Economic Research, Tirana, Albania
  • Romani matica in Jugoslavija, Novi Sad, Jugoslavia
  • Fundación El Manantial, Quito, Ecuador
  • Latvian Free Market Institute, Riga, Latvia
  • Lithuanian Free Market Foundation Vilnius, Lithuania
  • Alternate Solutions Institute, Lahore, Pakistan
  • Liberal Dusunce Toplulugu, Ankara, Turkey
  • Institute of Public Policy Analysis in Lagos, Nigeria
  • Free Market Institute, Sofia, Bulgaria
  • Free Market Foundation of South Africa, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • The Pathfinder Foundation, Colombo, Sri Lanka
  • Youth Initiative, Kathmandu, Nepal
  • Euro-Balkan Institute, Skopje, Republic of Macedonia
  • F.A. Hayek Institute, Bratislava, Slovakia
  • F.A. Hayek Institute, Vienna, Austria
  • Individual Liberty Initiative of Nigeria (ILIN), Abuja, Nigeria
  • African Students for Liberty, Lagos, Nigeria
  • IMANI: The Centre for Humane Education, Accra, Ghana
  • Free Society Institute, Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • International Policy Network, London, United Kingdom
  • Smart Business Hawaii, Honolulu
  • Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, Honolulu