A fertilizer company started by a group of kids is nearly destroyed by government agencies. Story inspired by actual events. [Dir: Ronald F. Maxwell/ Scott Schwartz, Cinnamon Idles, Tristine Skyler/ 104 min/ Family, Comedy/ Pro-Capitalism, Anti-Regulation, Anti-Taxation, Creator as Hero]
It may seem hard to believe, but one of the largest fertilizer companies in San Diego was founded by four children. This film effectively dramatizes, in a lighthearted way, the establishment and building of the company, putting particular emphasis on the difficulties introduced by taxation and regulation.
The children at the center of this story just want to make some money. At first, they try to do so with a small gambling operation at school, but it only gets them into trouble. After considering other business enterprises, they hit upon the idea of selling manure generated by horses kept at their parents’ horse stable business. Pretty soon, they’re supplying manure, as fertilizer, to lots of people. The kids are working hard and making more money than they ever imagined.
Their success is suddenly cut short, however, when a large established competitor calls the state tax board in an effort to get them in trouble. The kids’ parents are already in a separate dispute with the tax board, so the agency goes after the kids without mercy, prosecuting them for failing to charge sales tax and for not having a business license. It’s clear, however, that their indomitable young spirits aren’t crushed by the experience and they will go on with the business in spite of it all.
Throughout the entire film, government agents are portrayed in a very negative light. They are petty, incompetent, and vengeful. The kids are portrayed as ambitious and enterprising, though in the beginning they’re also a little cynical, particularly with regard to their initial gambling operation. Aside from that slight flaw, this is very good inspirational material for the young businessperson: it encourages industry and perseverance, and demonstrates the satisfaction that comes from creating value. At the same time, it reveals government to be an impediment to commerce and competition, a lesson worth learning at any age.
All this is told in a lighthearted comedic way, at a level intended for kids. One of the running jokes is that money gives the kids power over adults, a common childhood fantasy. There are points when it all gets silly, but the underlying story keeps it interesting. Even adults will get something out of this film. Show this one to the budding young entrepreneur.