Governing, Part Time Work and Overtime

I've been worried recently about New Jersey and Wisconsin. These states elected governors a few years ago and they probably expected that a big job like running a state would be more than a full time job. But instead, their chief executives are running around the country auditioning for a new job while their constituents get to scratch their heads and wonder who is minding the ship.

Governors Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Chris Christie of New Jersey think that they deserve a promotion. But instead of handing over the reins to a new governor while they campaign, these supposedly hard-working men are actually shirking their day jobs. What if there's another big storm like Sandy and Jersey is unprepared? What if Wisconsin union members decide to strike one day and the state is left without basic services?

Can these governors just phone in directions from New Hampshire or Iowa?

I've always thought that if an elected leader wants run for a higher office, they should be forced to resign. If you want to be President, which now requires almost two years of full-time campaigning, then you shouldn't hang on as Governor or Senator or Congress member.

All the presidential candidates talk about economic growth and creating jobs - well, wouldn't stepping aside create new jobs?

Even though you may not agree with candidates like Carly Fiorina or Ben Carson or former Governors Rick Perry or George Pataki, at least they aren't campaigning on the taxpayer's dime. Hillary Clinton has logged lots of hours in government jobs - first as Senator and then later as Secretary of State, but now her plate is totally clear to focus on meeting voters, articulate her agenda and defend herself against the inevitable slings and arrows from the press.

Then there is Donald Trump - maybe it would be better if he went back to his day job making lots of money by hanging his name on buildings or golf courses. He'd certainly be pissing fewer people off if he were firing "Apprentices" on television or if he was marveling at all the beautiful Miss USA contestants. But because there is no better way to get attention these days than running for President, Trump has found a new way to keep his name on the front page of the tabloids. Remember the NY Post headline: "Best Sex I Ever Had," from his second wife Marla Maples? That was more than 20 years ago and now The Donald has figured out new ways to make splashy headlines. If he is elected president, there will be many New Yorkers who might make their way to the Mexican border to escape the inevitable chaos in our country.

And speaking of jobs, Jeb Bush recently spoke about making the U.S. economy grow by 4% annually, which would require the creation of many new jobs, something that seems counterintuitive in our modern computer- and app-assisted economy. If cars will soon be self-driving, if computers and robots will be able to replace many humans and if new markets opened up by the Trans Pacific Partnership Treaty will flood the market with workers willing to work well below the pathetic U.S minimum wage, then that proverbial 'sucking noise' will be all the good jobs leaking out of our country.

I have yet to hear any presidential candidate articulate a plan to rebuild our infrastructure and transit systems to keep pace with the rest of the world. Japan and China have bullet trains, but in the world's leading economy it takes four hours to get from New York to Boston. Our roads are choked with traffic and we have outdated highways and bridges. We lose millions of hours of productivity by allowing workers to sit in traffic each day or commute in slow trains and buses.

But there is one thing to rejoice about, which has eluded all of our attention. Lost in all the talk about the historic Supreme Court decisions and the perilous treaty with Iran and all the campaign news, was a bold move by President Obama to change the criteria for eligibility for overtime pay. Now, workers who make up to $50,000 are eligible for overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours - a middle class boon. Perhaps through labor policies like this we can achieve wage growth for the lower- and middle-class. With one stroke of the pen, the President gave a raise to thousands of American workers.

It seems like our Lame Duck President is working more than full time in his last 500 days. At least someone in public office is providing constituents with their money's worth.

Tom Allon, president of City & State, NY, is the former Liberal Party-backed candidate for mayor. Questions or comments: tallon@cityandstateny.com.