We have previously told the story of Marjoe Gortner, a kid who, before he hit puberty, was already out there in the Bible Belt, giving thunderous and inspirational sermons to the masses who paid out the holy sphincter when the donation plate came around. It's estimated the Gortner's raised roughly three million dollars by his 16th birthday (about $24 million in today's money). While the official line was that Marjoe was stirred by the word of God and improvised his sermons, he would later reveal that he simply memorized speeches his father wrote for him, and relied on his natural charisma and bitchin' Little Orphan Annie haircut to get him through.
But hey, it was a different time, right? Not much had happened in all of human history up until the early 50s, so people were willing to literally hurl money at anything novel until it was crushed beneath the weight. There's no way a random kid reading awkward bible-themed speeches could work nowadays, right? Well, tell that to places like Brazil, where child preachers are still a very big business.
"Hey Brazil, if you think that kid's ability to memorize words is amazing, have we got some shit on the Internet to show you!"
That's right; there are parts of the world where you can still cash in on riches the Gortner way. The above link has an interview with a kid preacher who's been at it since he was five. Yes, he was memorizing sermons and inspiring the masses at an age when most of us were struggling to figure out why public nudity isn't acceptable. At age eight, he was doing 250 appearances a year in a country where people apparently have no problem with going to church on a Tuesday. Managed by their parents (who each claim their kid preacher is the fulfillment of a prophecy given to them before conception) they're accompanied by full-blown advertising blitzes wherever they appear.
But oh, does it pay off. If you get your kid on the child preacher circuit, you can charge around $900 per appearance (times 250 appearances...) PLUS rake in DVD sales (part of the deal is the church has to buy 150 copies of the DVD to sell afterward). And really, what possible harm could there be in telling a toddler he's the result of a holy prophecy to be the voice of God on earth? We see no megalomania or shameful scandals in that child's future. None at all.
The Wisconsin Shares program costs taxpayers about $350 million a year. So what is it? An elite, high-tech cheese-state taskforce, protecting the American tax payer from the sinister invading forces of Canada? Not so much: Wisconsin Shares is a daycare subsidy program. It pays childcare providers up to $200 a week to watch children.
And it's not a particularly well-managed program, either. Its qualifications and regulations are notoriously lax. Take the Racine sisters, for example: four sisters with 17 kids between them (because it's Wisconsin). All four sisters were unemployed, opting instead to stay home and swap their cheddar-fingered offspring back and forth between houses to fool the government into thinking they were all "daycare providers."
And it worked beautifully. The taxpayer dollars rolled in, and all the sisters had to do was watch their nieces and nephews a few days a week. How much do you think you'd get for babysitting your extended family? Five bucks an hour and free reign of the case of Costco Otter pops?
Well, the Racine sisters made half a million dollars in less than three years, without technically breaking a single law. Wisconsin Shares also allow parents employed by childcare providers to enroll their little ones in their place of employment--so if you actually want to see your children for some baffling reason, you don't even have to send them away, you just have to start your own "daycare." It's like every day is take your child to work day... because "have your child assist you in moral fraud day" wasn't nearly as catchy.
The catch with this one is that it sounds like you need a large volume of kids to make serious money, which might not be worth the trouble. Also, there have been problems with people having kids specifically to cash in on the program, and then keeping them out of school so they can make their cash. Also, the eligible program ages--between four and six--are vital to child development; when kids start their education that far behind their peers, very few catch up. So when the world descends into Idiocracy, tell your kids to point to Wisconsin... if they can find it on a map. Meanwhile, you'll be on your yacht!
For more doses of Katy at www.TwistedCynic.com.
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