As you may recall, we last left Jonathan Gullible on a remote Pacific island after his boat was tossed about by a terrific storm. One day …
Jonathan walked for several hours without a glimpse of any sign of life. Suddenly, something moved in the thicket and a small animal with a yellow-striped tail flashed down a barely visible track. “A cat,” thought Jonathan. “Maybe it will lead to me to other life.” He dived through the thick foliage.
Just as he lost sight of the beach and was deep in the jungle, he heard a sharp scream. He stopped, cocked his head, and tried to locate the source of the sound. Directly ahead, he heard another shrill cry for help. Pushing up an incline and through a mass of branches and vines, he clawed his way forward and stumbled onto a wider path.
As he rounded a sharp bend in the trail, Jonathan ran full tilt into the side of a burly man. “Out of my way, runt!” bellowed the man, brushing him aside like a gnat. Dazed, Jonathan looked up and saw two men dragging a young woman, kicking and yelling, down the trail. By the time he caught his breath, the trio had disappeared. Certain that he couldn’t free the woman alone, Jonathan ran back down the trail looking for help.
A clearing opened and he saw a group of people gathered around a big tree, beating it with sticks. Jonathan ran up and grabbed the arm of a man who watched the others work. “Please sir, help!” gasped Jonathan. “Two men have captured a woman and she needs help!”
“Don’t be alarmed,” the supervisor said gruffly. “She’s under arrest. Forget her and move along, we’ve got work to do.”
“Arrest?” said Jonathan, still huffing. “She didn’t look like, uh, like a criminal.” Jonathan wondered, if she was guilty, why did she cry so desperately for help? “Pardon me, sir, but what was her crime?”
“Huh?” snorted the man with irritation. “Well, if you must know, she threatened the jobs of everyone working here.”
“She threatened people’s jobs? How’d she do that?” asked Jonathan.
Glaring down at his ignorant questioner, the supervisor motioned for Jonathan to come over to a tree where workers busily pounded away at the trunk. Proudly, he said, “We are tree workers. We knock down trees for wood by beating them with these sticks. Sometimes a hundred people, working round-the-clock, can knock down a good-sized tree in less than a month.” The man pursed his lips and carefully brushed a speck of dirt from the sleeve of his handsomely cut coat.
“That Drawbaugh woman came to work this morning with a sharp piece of metal attached to the end of her stick. She cut down a tree in less than an hour, all by herself! Think of it! Such an outrageous threat to our traditional employment had to be stopped.”
Jonathan’s eyes widened, aghast to hear that this woman was punished for her creativity. Back home, everyone used axes and saws for cutting trees. That’s how he got the wood for his own boat. “But her invention,” exclaimed Jonathan, “allows people of all sizes and strengths to cut down trees. Won’t that make it faster and cheaper to get wood and make things?”
“What do you mean?” the man said angrily. “How could anyone encourage an idea like that? This noble work can’t be done by any weakling who comes along with some new idea.”
“But sir,” said Jonathan, trying not to offend, “these good tree workers have talented hands and brains. They could use the time saved from knocking down trees to do other things. They could make tables, cabinets, boats or even houses!”
“Listen, you,” the man said with a menacing look, “the purpose of work is to have full and secure employment, not new products.” The tone of his voice turned ugly. “You sound like some kind of troublemaker. Anyone who supports that infernal woman is trouble. Where are you from?”
“I don’t even know Miss Drawbaugh and I don’t mean any trouble, sir. I’m sure you’re right. Well, I must be going.” With that, Jonathan turned back the way he came, hurrying down the path. His first encounter with the people of the island left him feeling very nervous.
”’Ken Schoolland is an associate professor of economics and political science at Hawaii Pacific University.”’
”’The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible began as a radio series on KHVH in Hawaii and was later broadcast as a dramatic production in Alaska.”’
”’The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible, A Free Market Odyssey, is in its third, revised and expanded edition, 2001