Randall Bolten Blog

May 13, 2015
In a Washington Post op-ed piece, Catherine Rampell takes on presidential candidates pledging to “run government like a business,” as they advocate inane policies like 10% across-the-board cutbacks. She identifies several federal government situations where they should be spending more money, not less. She’s right, but it’s not just about spending money to make money. Well-run businesses use metrics intelligently.

May 06, 2015
A good friend has children in sixth grade at a Manhattan public school, where they recently administered statewide standardized tests. Just before the math section, the teacher handed out protractors as necessary tools, whereupon several of the students burst into tears, because they had never seen a protractor. Why do I find this anecdote so upsetting?

April 29, 2015
At a recent IMA seminar, I had the opportunity to sit in on several excellent presentations. One of them was Toby Groves’s overview of big data, a powerful software tool that has rightfully gotten much attention, but also has inherent limitations. It sometimes takes real wisdom and willpower to see when we should STOP using big data.

April 20, 2015
I love metrics. I love keeping score. And as a lover of metrics, I was delighted by the Bipartisan Policy Center’s announcement yesterday of a new metric: the Healthy Congress Index (HCI)! But as enthusiastic as I am about this new metric to assess the productivity of the U.S. Congress, there’s a fundamental problem that the BPC really needs to address.

April 14, 2015
In the last post, we discussed a problem related to health insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) caused by the legislation’s failure to address the impact of significant income fluctuations throughout the year. An approach that could deal with this takes a page from “accelerated” sales commission plans, where commission rates increase as sales volume increases.

April 07, 2015
Prof. Annette Nellen describes a problematic consequence of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The problem and some proposed resolutions will resonate with anyone who thinks deeply about designing incentive compensation plans, and illustrates what can happen when our legislators attempt to bake incentives and motivations into the laws they write.

April 01, 2015
In celebration of April Fool’s Day, let’s take a look at some of the most messed-up, incomprehensible recent examples of quantation. Not surprisingly, all are graphs. But some come from sources that definitely should know better.

March 24, 2015
In the last two posts, we looked at the basic “mathematics” of the decision about when to start collecting Social Security. In this post, we look at the “soft” stuff – the more subjective considerations that might shade your decision in one direction or the other.

March 17, 2015
In the last post, we looked at how time affects your decision about when to start collecting Social Security… more specifically how your life expectancy assumptions come into play. But time doesn’t affect just the value of your life, it affects the value of your money as well.

March 11, 2015
When should you start collecting your Social Security? The standard retirement age is 66. The law does allow you to start collecting as early as age 62, but your monthly benefit will be about 25% less. And if you’re willing to start collecting as late as age 70, you can collect about 32% more per month. How do you decide what to do?

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