Kids Try to Fix Recession in Their Own Way

Eleven-year-old Stefan Auclaire has become my "go-to" man for all economic questions.

I asked him last year if money equaled happiness."You don't know that? Yea!" he replied.

I first met Stefan last year at the school down the street from where I live in Catskill, N.Y. I'd set up a little booth at the school and asked little kids about a big word: recession.

I paid the students $1 for every good idea to fix the recession. The goal was to try and get a fresh perspective on issues like job creation, or how to cut the national debt. Unfortunately, after two days, the only one stimulating the economy was me.

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One thing I did learn however, was that the kids were trying to fix the recession in the own little ways - in their own little worlds.

Stefan and his older brother Keith live on the edge of town. When I first met them one year ago, their dad was out of work as a carpenter and their family was flat-out broke.

Stefan took matters into his own hands. He went and got his own money -- and gave it to his parents.

When he offered the money to his parents, they didn't accept it at first. "But I just laid it on the counter, and then they put it in their pile," he said.

"He gave it all, just to buy stuff for the house," said Wanda, Stefan's mom. "I got good kids, but it just hurts."

Since we first told that story, things have improved - thanks in large part to our viewers.

About a dozen people sent letters. Almost every letter came with $40 enclosed. There was almost $400 total. Again, Stefan gave it all to his parents.

"That's the way he is," Wanda said. "I don't think he'll ever change."

Stefan's dad, Keith Sr., used part of the money for gas to go on interviews. Now, he has a job working maintenance. It pays only $10 an hour, but he says it sure as heck beats borrowing from your kids.

  • Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.