Smart Kids in Abbottabad

Kids in Abbottabad playing outside bin Laden's compound ( AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images)

Life is all about incentives, as this paragraph from a New York Times article about Bin Laden makes clear:

When children playing in the fields let a ball fly into the [Bin Laden] compound by mistake, the owners never let them retrieve it but gave them 50 rupees to buy a new one, said one of the neighbors, a woman with a small boy on her hip who gave her name only as Bibi. When the children began to throw balls into the compound on purpose to get more money, the owners kept paying, she said, laughing.

(HT Jim Covington)

Eric M. Jones

Economically, this would soon rise to a fiat currency exercise where the kids would tape up wads of paper and try to collect on it. Just what the Fed does.

Mayuresh Gaikwad

What is odd is that the residents of the compound did not figure out the behavior of the kids. To reduce attention from their compound, the best strategy would be to pay the kids almost the same amount of money that it costs them to buy a new ball. I reckon a new cricket ball would cost Rs. 15-20 (in USD terms, 20 to 25 cents). If the folks had handed out Rs. 15, the kids would have soon lost most of the incentive to trouble the residents and not attract undue attention, which was the major concern of the residents anyways.

I think the kids would also have soon figured out that they could get 50 rupees even if they lied that their ball had gone in the compound, as the residents would not have bothered to check.


Seems as though a better strategy for the residents to avoid attraction attention would be to simply toss the balls back out.


"...the best strategy would be to pay the kids almost the same amount of money that it costs them to buy a new ball." That's assuming the kids are cooperative and relatively honest. What happens if one beats up another kid (or three), steals their ball(s), and throws them into the compound to try to collect? The occupants wind up compelled to act as judges/mediators, attracting even more attention to themselves. That said, I sort of like the image of a global pariah reduced to mediating children's disputes: says a great deal about operational degradation.


“A new report suggest bin Laden was stockpiling footballs at his Abbottabad compound, possibly as a part of a plot to fill them with explosives. TSA has issued a ban on footballs (soccer and American football), volley balls, basketballs, and all other sports equipment on commercial airlines.”

John B

These kids must be studying the MLB, NFL and NBA players' unions..........


Easy way for osama to give his kids a new ball daily without going shopping himself.