The inventory shortage is such that “we’re going to have people not able to buy a bottle of something,” Jamie Nimmer, chief executive of Nice’s Liquor Mart, told USA Today.
“People will start to cross the street to buy a bottle from someone else,” Steve Bertone, owner of Bertone Liquors in Linden, told The Associated Press.
The supply crisis is spurred by a contraction in the U.S. shipping industry prompted by declining demand and rising costs. The announcement comes after the expiration of a port trucking contract last month, a situation that led to 9,000 employees losing their jobs. Since then, the number of empty shipping containers filled with liquor has risen exponentially. This, according to Decatur News, is resulting in a shortage of nearby warehouses that can store the liquor.
The solution? Companies need to pay more. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) issued an executive order late last year that opened the state to bids to handle the liquor transportation system.
“We have been working closely with the Liquor Commission to address the challenges facing state liquor distribution,” Murphy spokeswoman Jessica Proud said in a statement to NJ.com. “Earlier this month, the governor signed an executive order that places a moratorium on the hiring of contract employees, which will allow more flexibility to keep private distribution channels available for consumers.”
While this solution may alleviate the looming crisis, it is the effect it has on businesses around the state that makes the issue so pressing.
In addition to January’s alcohol shortage, there has been an explosion in anti-government sentiment. Many people across the country have been upset after the declaration of a partial government shutdown. In response, the Trump administration’s response has been to fill state agencies’ offices with government workers. Nearly 140,000 federal workers could be working unpaid.
Then, there are the actual workers affected by the shutdown. The shutdown has been on for a third straight week, making it the longest in history. On Tuesday, only about 40 percent of federal workers reported for work.
It is understandable that state officials are reaching out to the private sector for help in the future. But critics feel that giving large contracts to the private sector is setting a precedent that could eventually make it harder for federal employees to keep their jobs. It is a situation that is not new to government. After being accused of an improper use of government assets, former director of central services Diane Bassett was fired in the summer of 2017. Bassett resigned in August 2016 after creating an open plan on federal buildings. She was fired just four months after the decision was made to fire her. The charges in this case were reduced.
Though the case was dropped and few details were made public, her dismissal was met with disgust across the country. Bassett was just one of many Federal employees that were dismissed without a proper explanation. In July of 2017, the Government Accountability Office released a report that found that there was “no national pattern for firing federal employees for improper use of government resources.”
President Trump is asking Congress to pass a temporary spending bill to avoid a federal government shutdown. The proposals would include funding for a host of things, such as disaster relief and some military aid. If passed, then the spending will go into effect and fund many federal government agencies through Feb. 8.