I did not know the minimum wage for jobs where tipping is common is $2.13. That is not a living wage — heck, the standard minimum wage is not a living wage. So why do we allow this? Here’s a video explainer.
That explains a lot, like why European countries tend not to have a tradition of tipping, while this country with its legacy of slavery does.
The appropriate response is not to refuse to tip — it’s to demand changes to the law to require that business owners pay their employees a fair salary. Don’t deprive already abused workers now.
I was worried that I’d get a bunch of entitled commenters bragging about how they never tip, like in that scene from Reservoir Dogs. But it could be worse. It could be much, much worse. Here’s the first comment in that YouTube video.
The Depths of Gehenna
Another Bigoted African pissing all over Whites..The Time has come…Deport ALL Africans back to the Jungle where they belong..They are Not fit to associate with Humans..
Don’t be that guy, either. Jeez, but YouTube commenters are the slimy blobs bobbing in the sewer.
slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says
Thank you I’ll be the first to brag that I’m the entitled who always tips >20% even at least expected purchases, like when I pick up a takeout pizza. I’m not rich, only entitled
Some states have it better, and some restaurants pay better than that, but still way below minimum (non-tipped) wage.
Marcus Ranum says
How is this not “paying below minimum wage” and illegal? I thought the idea of minimum wage is that it established, you know, a minimum wage.
I just replied to that moron thusly
“Why don’t you shut up and go piss up a rope “.
@5 I just reported his racist arse.
Well, it is not entirely true that there is no tradition of tipping in Europe. At least where I live, it is acknowledged to give a small tip to the establishment as a sign of appreciation. But you do not have to tip in order for the waiter not to starve.
cysyajads mf says
Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- says
As Charly said, we do tip in Europe, it’s just that we tip a lower percentage in general and employees usually get at least minimum wage (not that asshole employers don’t try to rip off employees).
I worked as a waitress about 20 years ago and back then I got 10 DM, which would be around 5.50$, which wasn’t too bad, plus tips. I also worked in factories and got between 12 and 14 DM. On average I made more money as a waitress, because tipping is usually around 10%. If you had grandma’s 80th birthday, people would come for a fixed meal at noon, stay for like an hour and half and generally give a 20 DM tip so I got a really good wage and a free meal on top. Of course, you also had the assholes who’s eat for 99.50, give you a hundred bucks and say “the rest is for you”.
Anyway, in general, menus in Europe will say something like “service and tax included”. In Spain there’s sometimes a cover charge (we paid a whole 5 Cents once!) or higher prices on the terrace. Tipping is still nice and expected.
I always tip unless people were actually assholes and I tend to tip more for small bills.
There is an old adage that goes ‘see how someone treats wait-staff and that is how they will treat you in a relationship’. I think that’s true.
Some people want to bring tipping into Australia, claiming that it’s sophisticated would you believe. Tipping can fuck right off.
Danny Husar says
It’s not. And nobody makes $2.13/hr. You couldn’t get anyone in America today to show up for work if all you guaranteed was $2.13/hr. Not students, not immigrants (legal or otherwise), certainly not working waitresses.
Why not?!?! The tipping culture is great. Service in Europe is shit just because of that. Tipping is very popular with those that work in the service industry (seriously, ask waitresses and bartenders if they’d like to give up tipping and instead make whatever the minimum wage is) because it changes their job from one that would be a minimum wage-based to one that actually pays a living wage. The people who tend to complain about it are those that feel bitter that they are expected to give an extra 15% on top of their bill.
I’m also a fan of enabling bottom-up informal human systems to develop and flourish. Instead of a bureaucrat deciding how all interpersonal relations should be governed, this was a system that grew up organically without any mandate by government or bureaucrats somewhere in Washington. People tipped service workers to let them know they did a great job. Service workers provided great service to justify the bonus. Again, why not?!?!?!
Because businesses use tipping as a way to reduce their expenses, and the workers end up having a vastly less reliable income. And no, the service is not noticeably better in USA.
Why not? Too many people are would be slave owners at heart.
If you don’t want to pay restaurant workers, even fast food workers, enough to live comfortably on stay home and cook for yourself.
Oh, and here in Austin, with the economy heating up, popular restaurants are having to cut hours because they can’t hold on to enough workers.
Constance Reader says
“And nobody makes $2.13/hr. You couldn’t get anyone in America today to show up for work if all you guaranteed was $2.13/hr. Not students, not immigrants (legal or otherwise), certainly not working waitresses.”
You’re waaaaay out of touch. Every server I know, including those at luxury hotels, here in Texas makes $2.13 plus tips. Bartenders make $5 plus tip. In many restaurants the back of the house (cooks, dishwashers, bussers) do not get a share of those tips.
Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- says
That’s certainly why I never heard about people complain, especially not when some church group leave a flyer about Jesus or some dude leaves his phone number instead of a tip…
Is that they mythical right winger Europe where women don’t leave the house anymore because we’re always raped by refugees?
Because whenever you people talk about “Europe” it’s not a place Europeans recognise. I admit I have never been to the USA, but I have quite some experience with eating out both in Europe and Latin America. Service may vary, but in general, it’s pretty OK. But maybe it’s just that I’m a person who likes to be served by other people and not somebody who thinks that dining out should recreate the experience of a 15th century monarch or a slave owner or something like that.
This seems to be very much at odds with the complaints from people working in the service industry…
Now, for one thing, it does seem somewhat odd to pay an unbilled amount of extra money, because somehow this “great” practice is restricted to this one area. You don’t have to pay the cashier extra for the service of billing your grocery. Your mechanic gets a fixed wage. You don’t pay 15% additional because they actually fixed whatever mistake it was.
But if it’s not about the money, so why not just raise prices 15% and pay that to the waitstaff? If the money is so great, they would still make the same, probably more because most people would still tip, just like we do in Europe. But that wouldn’t feel good to you, right? It would take away your power to punish the waitstaff by withholding their tips.
We also have a tipping culture in Canada, but the minimum wage for waiters/waitresses is sensible at least (I think it’s CAD$13.00/h in Ontario) and a “normal” tip is 15/20%.
PZ Myers says
I knew this thread would bring in the libertarian assholes, like Husar.
No, tipping did not evolve organically for the benefit of the workers. It is a capitalist scheme to allow bosses to pay workers less.
Danny Husar says
I’m not an asshole, nor am I libertarian. I do believe in market economics complemented by a social safety net and reasonable government oversight and regulation.
Why would you call me an asshole? I understand that I’m not very welcome here, but I figured if I tried to be respectful with my position, I would receive basic human respect back. I certainly understand this is a more progressive forum, so I understand people will fundamentally disagree with me.
It’s not a ‘scheme’. That is a warped interpretation. Are you scheming to ‘rip-off’ students when your academic union (if you have one) negotiates a collective bargaining agreement that may lead to higher tuition? NO, of course not.
I’m reminded of reading A Tree Grows In Brooklyn as a kid, with the character who was proud once he got his waiter’s union pin so that restaurants would have to pay him to work there instead of saying that he could get by on tips alone.
Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says
So, you acknowledge you are doing nothing other than trolling. You also suffer from elitism. You presume your unsupported allegations are evidence. No support, your allegations are just blather.
slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says
Marcus Ranum asked @4:
The way it was once explained to me was: –>
that for “service” businesses, like restaurants, the restaurateur was allowed to go with estimating 15% of last year’s revenue would have been given to the staff in the form of “tips”, using that, averaged over the staff, to compensate it up with hourly wages, to meet minimum wage statute. <–
in other words: the minimum wage is fungible and not the simple arithmetic it sounds like at first.
Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- says
Because you behave like one.
@bboccoqq in Quebec the minimum wage for workers who receive tips is only $9.80 an hour.
Whenever an increase in the minimum wage is proposed Canadian groups like the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and the C.D. Howe Institute argue it will result in less hours for current workers, and less hiring. They never seem to consider that there will be less customers for many businesses if wages remain stagnant.
I am European. I was in USA. I knew back then a lot of waiting staff. I know some people who worked as waiting staff here in Europe. Therefore I declare with confidence this statement:
a load of bull crap. Danny Husar, have you actually seen a bit of world? Do you speak more than one language? I cannot imagine how you can say falsehood like that with a straigth face if you have been outside the Anglophone world (both geographically and mentally). Especially after it was pointed out by two Europeans, that there is tipping culture in Europe, only different one from that in USA – here the waiters get living wage, but when they are nice and polite, they get the extra tip. And they want to get that little extra, so they are nice and polite. Mostly. They are, of course, exceptions, since humans are humans.
When I was in USA, I was working two jobs – laundry worker anta hotel and a dishwasher in pizzeria (the first one a minimum-wage job, on the second one I was able to negotiate a pay-rise because I was good at it). People in tipped positions got generally better money during the busy eason. But when the season was nearing its end, their income dried up with the tips, whereas I still had my hourly income throughout. On average, they made slightly more than I did over the season, but – and this is the clincher – only because we all were seasonal student workers from Europe and we could take that money here. So no-one had to live off of whatever they were able to save up from the tips in between the seasons. Locals did not have that option, so they were only glad to leave tipped works to seasonal workers. If my memory serves correctly, there was only one USAmerican waiter in the whole establishment. And she was a student too.
And another thing. Tipping makes me hate dining out in groups. There is always some jerk who thinks because I leave 30% that justifies them leaving less of a tip.
Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- says
Thinking about it, if Danny Husar had bad experiences with service in Europe it might be entirely explainable by showing some very entitled US American behaviour whereby you
a) simply assume that the rules and customs are just the same everywhere
b) expect everybody to speak English
c) if b fails, say it again, only louder.
Of course, said behaviour is not unique to US Americans* and by no means something all Americans do, but a symptom of a mindset that seems to be more common in the USA than in other places. It will, of course, result in a terrible experience.
*We once sat next to some other Germans in a very nice restaurant in Corsica who demonstrated the exact same behaviour
In our household, our approach to tipping is to tip the same amount regardless of the quality of service. This prevents any subjective judgment to enter into the equation. A system that relies on subjective judgments is just asking for racism/sexism/ableism, and we don’t want part of that.
The difficult part is that I’m never quite sure which kinds of things are supposed to have tips or not. e.g., a restaurant where you pay up front, and waiters only bring the food to your table. God I hate tipping.
I’m a little confused by some of the points.
My understanding is that the minimum federally guaranteed hourly wage is $7.25
But some states can set this to a higher value (but not lower). But, for some jobs, in some states, a portion of this $7.25 may be assumed to be coming from tips so the employer might be allowed to actually pay less than $7.25 (but, again by federal law, even taking tips into account, an employer must pay at least $2.13 (though again individual states can set this to higher values)). So, in cases like Texas, even though the employer is paying $2.13 the worker is still getting at least $7.25.
This is, at least, the principal; but it is easy to imagine that the reality is worse.
Now, I’m just asking if that summary is accurate.
Athywren - not the moon you're looking for says
“seriously, ask waitresses and bartenders if they’d like to give up tipping and instead make whatever the minimum wage is”
Why ask them to make a false choice? I’ve worked in a restaurant in a country where the “minimum” part of minimum wage actually means minimum. We got minimum wage and tips.
The fact is, if you’re selling your time, which is what you’re doing when you’re working for another’s business, you should be paid for it at the standard rate, or higher, regardless of whether you get tips. You can’t buy paper for the office printer at less than half price and argue that it’s ok because other people will pay more to cover your shortfall, so why should it be acceptable when you’re buying someone’s time?
I’ve been to Europe (rural Corsica), and my perception of the restaurant service was that it was particularly slow. But it wasn’t clear that this was “bad” service, or if it was just the norm to sit at dinner for a long time. And maybe we didn’t understand the norms for how to get waiters’ attention. After that experience, I don’t really trust Americans to make good judgments of European service, because there are a lot of cultural differences that I think are easily misunderstood by Americans.
Restaurant staff in the UK get at least minimum wage plus tips, for which most people would leave 10% on average. There has been legislation to prevent resauranteurs using tips to make up the wages or just keeping the tips as part of the bill, they have to pay the minimum wage now and tips must be given back to staff. I have found service to be generally good, as good as the restaurants I’ve eaten at in the USA, with similar exceptions both poor and excellent. Of course I am always polite, I don’t make unreasonable demands or snap my fingers for service, in other words I treat waiters like the human beings they are, I suspect that if you treat them like slaves you might not receive good service where ever in the world you are eating.
For someone who is ‘not an asshole’ you do a very good imitation of one.
Wait a minute, if I tip a waitperson in the US, is that their personal reward or is the money shared between waitstaff (and perhaps other restaurant staff)? I’m hearing conflicting accounts on this. The latter option doesn’t seem like that much of a service incentive, unless the restaurant is going to fire and replace workers who bring in inadequate tips.
(Frankly I’m not sure how this works in my own country either. I haven’t bothered to find out because tipping isn’t standard here and I’m a socially anxious weirdo who almost never eats out. As far as good service goes, I can’t envision anything beyond having the food handed in front of me.)
Another perspective for Danny Husar:
Approximate complaint heard from one of my French colleagues after he came back from a visit to the US:
“Service in US restaurants is terrible! The waiter stressed us throughout the meal. Stopping by every five minutes to ask if everything was OK. We were in the middle of a conversation! Constant interruptions! And when we had finished eating he brought us the bill without us even asking. Trying to push us out the door as fast as possible. It’s because of their awful tip system. It makes the waiters pushy to try to get the guests to hurry up so they can get in a new group and earn more money.”
What is considered good service is entirely culturally determined. Don’t imagine that what you consider good service is at all universal. A French waiter behaving like an American one would be grounds for complaints to the restaurant, not praise or extra tips.
Bob Michaelson says
PZM assumes that a video that he found should be accepted as completely accurate. If he had done even a quick Google search he might have learned that the history of tipping in the U.S. – and Europe – is not quite as clear-cut at presented in that video. For example, see http://www.edwards.usask.ca/faculty/marc%20mentzer/tipping.pdf
As with much of history, and much of science for that matter, there are aspects that are contested, but that is all the more reason to take a brief moment to look into claims before touting them.
Danny Husar says
How? I’m not. I don’t write things just to anger people. I write things down because I believe them. I tend to respond if I see my position misrepresented.
If I do, it’s not something I attempt. I don’t see myself as better than anyone.
I did. I’ve travelled to Europe extensively. I emigrated from Eastern Europe (so I do have an EU passport) through a refugee camp in Austria. Also, I’m not American. I was raised in Poland and came to Canada when I was a kid in early 90s. It’s also why I’m not that friendly to socialism (and I don’t mind Nordic socialism, which is basically market-based economy with a strong social welfare), but rather the Cuban or Venezuelan style socialism which is atrocious.
Yes. I speak 3 languages. English, French and Polish. Giliell, everything you assumed about me so far is wrong. Is it because you perceived me to be a white American male, therefore you knew everything about me?
You’re right, it’s not black and white, you can have a combination of the too. For example, here in Ontario, there’s a 14/hr minimum wage and a $13/hr minimum wage for service workers just because tips are expected. So sure, this is a policy discussion.
It usually varies from place to place. For example, waitstaff may share tips with the cooks. Having said that, there are places where the employer will garnish part or all of the tips – that’s unacceptable, and those places should be shamed.
Jack-booted Verbalist says
Just as an FYI, in Ontario minimum for servers in licensed to serve alcohol establishments is $12.20.
And most restaurants have the wait staff “tip out” to back of house staff, or the bartender, based on a percentage of sales. So, if your meal cost $100.00 pre-tax (our sales tax runs at a flat 13%), and food was 60 of it, the server tips out anywhere from 2 to 4 percent on it. Tip out to bartenders varies as well.
So, if you choose not to tip at all on your $113.00 bill, it actually costs your server to wait on you.
Of course, it’s very low per transaction, most customers are generous.
And if I may, my observation after over 30 years earning my living in the restaurant business, is that people tip what they tip, 10 or 15 or other, regardless of the actual experience. Sometimes you see someone tip less or more based on quality of service…but it’s rarer than you might think.
And yes. Some business owners take a percentage of tips, keep server tip-out to pay kitchen staff, etc., but it’s against the law and I’ve been lucky.
Recently in D.C., there was a referendum to abolish the tipped minimum wage (i.e. to establish a single minimum wage). There was a lot of propaganda against it before the vote — waitstaff (and restaurant owners, but you’d expect that) being interviewed on TV who said they opposed the change, with little representation of the pro side. Nevertheless, as raises in the minimum wage tend to do, it passed at the ballot box. And… the city council immediately announced their intention to overturn the vote. A sham of democracy.
Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- says
The funny thing is that you’re so perceptive and smart and educated that you actually got the person completely wrong. The one who asked you these questions was Charly.
Having said that, let me correct my hypothesis: Your bad experience was probably due to you being an arrogant asshole.
Perhaps Danny will be more willing to listen to a white person.
The employer takes the tips, without paying a minimum wage? I suppose this is illegal, but then again there doesn’t seem to be a clear government-mandated rule on how exactly the tips should translate into the individual server’s paycheck, while the exception to minimum wage is applied?
I’ve lived and traveled in the US and Europe and can’t honestly say that I find the service better in one place or the other. It seems to be very individual. In Europe, I’m an out of it American who overtips because I have an underlying fear that the law changed when I wasn’t looking and now tipping a token amount is depriving people of their livelihood.
” there are places where the employer will garnish part or all of the tips”
As part of the Omnibus Budget Bill, in March, 2018,the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was amended to, for the first time, expressly codify protections for tipped restaurant workers, and institute specific consequences for employers, supervisors, and managers that break the law. The bill states: “An employer may not keep tips received by its employees for any purposes, including allowing managers, or supervisors to keep any portion of employees’ tips, regardless of whether or not the employer takes a tip credit.”
There are other provisions, for example, it erased Trump’s Department of Labor December, 2017 proposal, for employers that pay all of their employees the full minimum wage (not the tipped minimum) would have been considered “owners” of any tips made by their staff.
If you tip in cash, the waiter can pocket it and avoid having it garnished by their employer.
As I understand it, there are some countries where the trend is that if you tip, you are insulting both the waiter and the owner, by implying that the wait staff isn’t being paid enough. Other’s, like Japan, just have a “group” view, by which to say to them, “You did a good job.”, instead of, “Your team did a good job.”, is an embarrassment. But, yeah, the US version is f-ed up, even more so than I kind of realized. I do have one minor issue, and its the same one someone else brought up – there was multiple trajectories to get us to this point, even if it started, in part, where the video claims. One of them, as I understand it, had to do with depression era issues, where business owners, usually honestly, might not be “able” to pay someone their full wages in all cases, or would be delayed doing so. Prior to that period tipping was not ubiquitous across the country, as I understand it. After that, businesses got politicians involved, and instead of making it a temporary policy, contingent on how the economy was doing, cemented the wage/tip gap in law. Whether or not this was intentional, on anyone’s part, or its one of those cases where they wanted to do it, short term, but the law staid on the books, until it became a permanent feature…
But.. I do also think that the video, even if unintentionally, is doing something way too common today. Call it a reverse Gish Gallop – leaving out the kitchen sink, even when the kitchen sink is relevant. Arguments get so narrowly focused on one single “cause” which is being fought against that some people will inevitably refuse to take the cause seriously, because its being dishonest about the complexity of the problem. In some cases this is even a valid argument, like where groups get taken over by a specific sub-class of individual, and the people whose problems it was originally meant to address find themselves, and their specific issues, being ignored, because they are no longer the visible part of the movement. And, this is not a good thing. Because it results in fragmentation, where people split off to form new groups, which refuse to work with each other, marginalization of problems, infighting, and.. just plain dishonesty, and a backlash against it, often led by people who don’t want it to change, but are quite happy to point out any example of dishonesty or misrepresentation, as grounds for “why” the public should turn on, or ignore the movement.
I suspect this isn’t likely to be the case, on a large scale, with this specific video, but.. its something that needs to be considered with care, lest the opposition use it against the whole causes.
@Danny, then I am all the more baffled by your false accusation that service in Europe is shit because we do not have the idiotic tipping culture that USA have.
You might have a point if you were talking about services in former eastern bloc before and shortly after the fall of the iron curtain, but times have changed since then a lot.
And it is definitively not true for German restaurants, where I have always found the service being excellent.
Just what I want on a possible conference trip to the US: making purchasing food a psychological, social and political game.
There is a passionate and ongoing debate over minimum wage in economic circles. Being interested in this subject and reading a bit about it, I find it funny how non-economists have come to believe in one position or the other with almost religious certainty. Moreover, a person’s position on this matter can be easily predicted given their political affiliation.
Those on the right have absolutely no doubt that minimum wage will lead to vast unemployment, exclusion of minorities (well, not everyone on the right argues this one!), and ultimately turn every place that tries it into Venezuela.
Those on the left basically believe minimum wage is the panacea for poverty. They also have no doubt that the economists who argue against minimum wage are being paid by the evil capitalist class to do so.
If anything, I think it shows how economics as a science has been corrupted to a degree that has made it virtually irrelevant in a debate over an economic problem.
You’re basically correct – the law has been that in states that pay tipped employees, (which, besides restaurant workers include bellhops and valets) who regularly receive more than $30 in tips on a monthly basis, employers may pay a sub-minimum wage of $2.13. Any week that said employees tips don’t raise this amount to the federal minimum wage of $7.25, or whatever the state minimum wage is, the employer is required to make up the difference. As you might imagine, enforcement of this is very difficult, which has caused the restaurant industry to be the top offender of wage theft, according to data from the Department of Labor.
There are 7 states that did away with two-tier minimum wage decades ago, including California which has never had it. Employees must get full minimum wage plus keep tips.
Bonnie McDaniel says
There’s a great series of articles by Jay Porter, regarding his tipless restaurant, the Linkery. Salient quote, to me:
Our most transgressive act was refusing to allow our guests to pay our servers anything more beyond the service charge — this is where the angry came out. A certain small number of very vocal men (and it was always men who were vocal about it) resented that we were not letting them try to exercise additional control over our team members. This was true even though compelling research has shown that servers do not adjust quality of service as a result of tips; instead the idea that the restaurant was not offering our servers up as objects of control, was heresy.
First in the series is here: http://jayporter.com/observations-from-a-tipless-restaurant-part-1-overview/
Danny Husar says
Why would you say something like that?
m n says
It’s important to remember, in conversations about tipped minimum wage in the US, that even though employers are required to ensure their workers are making at least minimum wage on average over each two-week period, there are at least two large and mutually-reinforcing reasons that you can’t count on this actually being the case:
This is not something that is necessarily known by the staff (especially in the case of young teenage workers) and even the most well-meaning employer still has to be told a worker hasn’t made minimum wage in order to make up the difference. I started working in various food service jobs at age 15 and never knew that I was entitled to ask for and receive this money until I was in my 20s. And that’s assuming that employers engage in good faith on this matter, which brings us to…
Even if you know to ask for the money you deserve, there’s a good chance that asking for it will screw you over more than it will help you. Due to the prevalence of right-to-work laws in the US, workers can be fired for basically no reason (read: any reason, regardless of how unfounded and horrible), and those in tipped professions are often even more vulnerable than average due to their livelihood being dependent on pulling a certain number of desirable shifts (as opposed to slow times or that shift when the poorly-tipping church crowd comes in every week), so tipped workers can be cut off from their livelihood without even firing them. When you ask for your wage to be increased so you make the minimum per legal requirements, you are very likely to be penalized, whether in terms of number of scheduled hours, exclusion from desirable high-earning shifts, or even by being fired, usually on grounds that if you’re not making it to minimum wage on tips, you must be giving poor service to the owner’s customers (assuming they even give you a reason).
And that’s all assuming that the employer is following the letter of the law. Beyond that, it’s largely impossible for people working at a tipped wage to pursue their legal rights in court when they are, almost inevitably, violated, because they’re not making much, and the money they do make is not necessarily a stable income, especially for those (the majority) working in the lower end of the tipped food service market.
As a counterpoint to the Slate piece, there is an article in the San Diego Reader on Jay Porter and the Linkery, and why it failed. The main complaint is with Porter’s view that because of his no-tipping policy the restaurant had superior service. “While the Linkery was known for many things good and bad, it never had a reputation as a restaurant with excellent service… the restaurant failed; partly because the quirky, poorly trained service staff waited tables in an off-the-cuff style that appealed to few patrons in an industry where consistency is the biggest key to success.”
Personally, I find it hard to reconcile a claimed no-tipping policy with an 18% service charge added to every bill.
Personally, I think that a livable minimum wage is a bare minimum, and would much prefer a UBI
Bonnie McDaniel @ 51,
Well, that’s a good link. I read all 6 parts.
You too, tomh @ 54.
Thank you both.
“You presume your unsupported allegations are evidence.”
I like “presuppose” better than I like “presume”, but that may be just a matter of style.
This is your old friend kamaka. I’m going to get back in the fight for a while.
We’ll be in touch.
@raaak #49, a few years ago, Germany has passed a law about minimum wage. Many right leaning economists were warning about impeding doom and rising prices etcetera it is going to bring.
Exactly none of their predictions materialized.
Left leaning economists were predicting that there will be less people dependent on social support from state.
That predictions were correct.
An article in English: -click-
I am no economist, but this shows to me that left leaning economists were right and right leaning economists were wrong.
I bet that Danny is really nice to wait staff that grovel appropriately for tips.
Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says
Charly #58, Princeton economists agreeing with you. Link
(Apparently now Card is now at UC Berkeley.)
@55, 58, 60:
I chose a few arguments from each column in the Wikipedia article on minimum wage. They are hotly contested among economists, but laypeople who should normally refer to those experts to get an informed view on the subject instead rely on politically motivated talking points which are designed to shout the other side down.
Take the racism accusation. Maybe someone like Sowell is wrong in arguing that minimum wages were designed to hurt immigrants and people of color by setting a high entry bar to the job market. I haven’t seen him provide a lot of evidence for his claim.
I am skeptical of the claims in the linked video for the same reasons. Without any evidence whatsoever, the video bases its claim on a historical narrative and doesn’t give me anything to assess the accuracy of that narrative. Yes. A living wage is a very nice thing. But how much is it? And then there is the false claim that a worker can receive way below federal minimum wage. If I hadn’t read the comments, I would have thought that some workers are actually getting paid a total of $2/hr for their labor.
And finally, from the report linked in 58:
Plain and simple. Increasing minimum wage incurs a cost so someone has to pay that cost and it is usually the consumer or the employee who coughs it up not the employer. Thinking about these things don’t mean people are on the payroll from evil capitalists and it is unhelpful to always label them as such.
Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says
Raaak #61, you failed to mention the best reason for increasing the minimum wage. It increases the money in the hands of those most likely to spend it, as was mentioned in my link.
From my experience, any extra money when I was on a graduate student stipend, would have been spent immediately.
Later, when I was making more, likely to saved for a larger purchase.
Now, any extra money will just go into the bank.
Want to increase the money flowing through the economy, give it to those that will spend it.
That’s what the evidence says, both my experience and the experts.
consciousness razor says
I have no idea what you mean by “thinking about these things.” Assuming you’re not trying to suggest that we’re not even thinking about it, then what exactly is it suggesting? Is there some particular conclusion that I wasn’t supposed to reach?
I recognize that someone will pay for it. This is no excuse for exploitation. People should have enough to live a decent life. It makes no difference at all how good you are at serving tables — you’re a person who should have some minimal level of economic security and stability, because your society does shit (i.e. pays for it) to take care of its own fucking people. If someone gives you a tip, for doing an excellent job let’s say, it should merely be icing on the cake. It should be not the cake itself, which you will need to survive. The fact that this “cake,” like all physical things, must come from somewhere and not via some kind of magic, is obvious. And it changes nothing about the analysis above, when you really think about it as you recommended above.
Exploiting people so that we can get cheaper restaurant food, so that restaurant owners/investors/etc. can make bigger profits, and so on, because it obviously comes from somewhere and incurs some kind of cost to such people…. Yes, indeed, those who accept that kind of shit argument, when you actually think about it (or at least when I do, can’t speak for you), definitely are “evil capitalists.” That’s exactly who and what I’d be talking about when I use such terms, and if you thought it was somebody or something else, you were mistaken. I wanted a good life and a good society for people to live, not one in which the rich/powerful determine what’s most profitable for them and leave all other considerations out of the picture. What exactly is supposed to be unhelpful (or thoughtless or whatever the fuck) about thinking in these terms?
consciousness razor says
“you’re a person who should have some minimal level of economic security and stability, [and this happens] because your society does [give enough of a] shit (i.e. pays for it) to take care of its own fucking people”
I am aware of that argument. It is a good argument. I am saying the video in PZ’s post does not use it (or any other good argument). The fact that PZ as an academic prefers a random gal on the Internet who makes an evidence free claim about an economic issue to experts in the field is telling me more about the sorry state of economics as a science and as a reliable tool for analysis than the validity of the actual claim.
Yet that is what the German employers seem to have done when they had to pay a higher a minimum wage. They cut breaks and had workers work harder. The link in 58 says that the German hourly workers liked it. Working harder gave them better job satisfaction. Well, in that case, we might as well grant the same point for those on the American right (again Sowell) who argue that entry to the job market and gaining experience is more important than receiving a high minimum wage.
And I did not say everyone on the left is guilty of blaming the capitalist for everything. I find the video in the post and some of PZ’s comments problematic in that regard. I did not know anything about tipping and its history. But watching that video actually made me biased towards disagreeing with the position that it is merely an exploitation scheme. This video is a good example of how not to argue if you are serious in changing minds and hearts.
Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says
As is your consistent ideological contrarianism. It simply doesn’t make sense.
m n says
@61 – raaak
Some workers are. Not even taking into account the many reasons someone might not be paid money they are, legally, owed by their employers, waitstaff being required to do side work, opening work, and closing work is near ubiquitous in the industry. I never made more than the tipped minimum for the hour of those many shifts where I was required to show up at 6am, an hour before opening, to roll little bundles of silverware into napkins, vacuum the floor, set up the buffet, and wash the windows. In what way, working that hour where there are no customers to tip me, did I ever make more than $2.13 for my time? When I stayed that hour after the customers were chivvied out at close, deep cleaning all those tables and booths?
I don’t deny that I have and ideology. But I don’t see my criticism of this video to have anything with that.
The video claims the Capitalists schemed after civil war to enforce tips so they could avoid paying the minimum wage? Really? At least Wikipedia gives a different story. I bet one of them is mistaken! Do you know which one?
Making false statements and twisting history to be compatible with your worldview is what PragerU does and it never ever works in the long run.
chigau (違う) says
Bless your heart.
Akira MacKenzie says
Speaking as someone who makes $15/hr. and is still living pay-check-to-paycheck and stuck living with his father, I’m Not sure even that is enough.
Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says
I just wanted to drop a note telling you I like the Parker allusion in your choice of ‘nym.
Tonstant Weader did not fwowed up.
There is no logical reason to have a two-tier minimum wage, one for employees who may receive tips, and one for everyone else. To make it worse, when the federal minimum wage was at $4.26, the tipped employee minimum wage was set at 50% of that, or $2.13. Yet as the federal wage has reached $7.25 (last set in 2009), a 70% rise, the tipped minimum wage remains the at same $2.13.
A mere 7 states have eliminated the two tier minimum wage system, and even some of them allow lower grossing businesses some leeway. Restaurants claim that if they paid the real minimum wage, they would have to raise prices and might go out of business. To that I say…so what? A more likely reason they have been able to maintain the two-tier minimum wage system is the $3,270,000 spent on lobbying by the Food and Beverage Industry in 2017
(an average year, over $30M in the last 10 years).
Alaska, California, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada have done away with the two-tier system with no discernible ill effects.
Don’t worry too much about tipping. I mean, definitely tip if you go to a sit-down restaurant, where the server could possibly make that $2.13 an hour if you don’t tip. Yes, even though it’s technically illegal. As others have said, restaurants are the place where wage theft is the worst in the USA. But anywhere else, tips are on top of the regular minimum wage. If you’re unsure about how much to tip, generally 20% is the expected amount if you had ok service, with more or less depending on the service level. I still generally tip at least 20% unless the service is very poor. Another aside: if the kitchen gives you bad food, but the wait staff is excellent, still tip well. The kitchen usually doesn’t get any portion of that tip, and only a small amount if they get any.
I’m another person saying that service in Europe was no worse than the average US restaurant, and actually in many ways better. Like the French person mentioned above (can’t find the comment to attribute it, sorry) I don’t like how the wait staff has to interrupt us every few minutes while eating. As for the check, I actually prefer getting my check ASAP so I can leave.
You’re correct that this video doesn’t tell the whole story. Tipped wages came from a couple different angles, all of them horrible and capitalist and greedy. Every reason that tipping came about is to avoid paying a straight wage to the restaurant industry. Are you really surprised that Wikipedia may not know the full history of tipped wages? Except, read that whole entry about the history and it specifically says “Some have argued that “The original workers that were not paid anything by their employers were newly freed slaves” and that “This whole concept of not paying them anything and letting them live on tips carried over from slavery.”” So Wikipedia does agree with the damned video. Try for reading comprehension, huh?
One reason some servers like the tipped wages (including some I know/have known) is that they don’t get taxed on the full amount. Honestly, I have no problem with that since they pay higher taxes on their tips anyway. Oh, didn’t you see that the employer pays less in payroll taxes for tipped workers? I guess you didn’t read that whole Wiki article then?
@raaak, I would like to point out, that I was not talking about some speculation or similar. I was talking about a fact. The fact being – when Germany introduced minimum wage, unemployment went down, number of people requiring state assistence went down, prices did not go up, companies did go bancrupt etc.
That the engish article about this contained some ad-hoc and post-hoc reasoning at the end is irrelevant. What is relevant is the reality. I had seen better and more detailed articles in German, but not everyone here can read German, but everyone can read English.
I am saying this quite often, sometimes even to my manager: Reality does not care about our speculations. It just is what it is.
A livable minimum wager in reasonably well-off country does not cause immediately recognizable harm. We can speculate why this is and about motivations and rationalize it all we want. And some of those rationalizations and speculations might be even correct. But the reality stays even if they are wrong.
However explanations and speculations that deny said reality are wrong by default and by definition.
On personal note – as someone who has been working through busy times as well as slack times, busy times are better, as long as the workload is bearable (i.e. doable without causing harm).
damn it Tpyo ate a word
“companies did NOT go bancrupt.” instead “companies did go bancrupt etc”
It is you who has a rather severe comprehension problem. I am glad I helped you find Wikipedia. It is a good thing and you should try it sometimes before buying arguments wholesale. But no, I did not read the whole entry. Simply because reading one paragraph gave me enough to raise a lazy talking point which I hoped would show the problem with this form of arguing things. I also linked to a piece from Thomas Sowell to show that it is not really hard to argue the opposite: the racists love minimum wage!
Since you have such amazing comprehension skills, please show me where I said I preferred one story over the other.
Yes, and I never said otherwise. As far as unemployment is concerned, minimum wage does not seem to have a seriously adverse effect. But that debate is still far from over among economists. Pundits are another story!
I already did in my previous comment. You stated that Wikipedia said one thing, yet it said the other as well. You are being inconsistent, which either means you are too invested in being right, or you are being a troll.
Oh, and raaak, your stories in one don’t say what you think they say, in another NY Post isn’t exactly a definitive source. Finally a third, there being a debate about something, I really don’t know what you think you’re proving about a problem with “this form of arguing things”. What form? Who is arguing what in what way that you are trying to change? You are making no sense.
Good Lord these comments are depressing.
The only first world democratic nation on the planet that can’t get it right sits around arguing while things just keep getting worse.
The evidence is everywhere around you. Every first world democracy has figured this shit out.
Every. Single. One.
Stop listening to these infantile, selfish brats on the Right. They are nothing but fat, squalling 2-year olds with both hands full of candy, screaming that they won’t share. Their opinions are less than worthless, they are DANGEROUS.
The Left and Center outnumber them three to one. Stop listening. When they open their mouths tell them to prove it. Give them ONE chance then simply tell them to shut the hell up.
If you don’t they’re going to be the ruin of you all. It’s time the adults in America stood up and damn well started adulting.
@Raak 76. And there I was thinking that metheseus was citing reality…..
Sorry, Charly was citing reality
The tipping culture primarily came as a result of Prohibition. To tip for service was considered gauche.
Another thing on the Europe thing – many businesses are long term family owned with family members working in them, and wanting to build a long term business for future generations, whilst earning a decent living. It’s a virtuous circle where engendering customer loyalty works for everyone.
I know of many places where they also have terrific long term immigrant employees who are seen as part of the long term business success and share in teh benefits
John Morales says
[Waited a while to comment, so as not to derail]
Haven’t watched the video, but I’m pretty sure tipping predates the European conquest of America.
Tipping’s origins, I think, were as a show of magnaminity. A cultural thing.
Hence, if tipping is seen as a server’s due rather than as a gratuity (as apparently it is in the USA), then its very point is vitiated. It becomes a hidden tax, avoidable only by being rude (at best) or cruel (at worst).
When I go to a shop, I go to purchase goods and/or services. If there’s a price on the ticket or the tag or the board or the menu or whatever, that’s the price I expect to pay.
Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- says
Fun fact, you’re already paying. Wages that are below living wage mean that people have to find additional funds to pay for the things they need to live.
In Germany they are the infamous “Aufstocker”, the add-uppers, who receive welfare in addition to their wages.
In the USA they might receive foodstamps.
If course, the easiest source of additional funds is the family, thus making sure that none of them can ever escape poverty.*
So yeah, this is nothing but a hidden subsidy for the companies. We all pay via our taxes. But of course the system doesn’t only have disadvantages. For one thing it allows middle class people to feel superior. Where would they be if a “burger flipper” earned a decent living? It also allows cruel bastards to make poor people jump through hoops, having to proove their needs to the satisfaction of the gatekeeper while being blamed for their poverty. And of course it allows companies to make more money by ripping off taxpayers, so it’s not all bad.
*I’m not poor, but I was acutely aware last year that I couldn’t actually afford my job. I needed a car to go to work, but then the car needed repairs that equalled two gull months salary. Without my spouse I would have been unable to pay for the things I needed in order to make money.
Even considering that there is no such thing as “Europe” (there are huge cultural and social differences among countries in the EC), tipping in Europe is far less common than in USA. And the service is not “shit”: there are excellent places and awful ones.
Institutionalized tipping for me is wrong for so many reasons: it does not provide stability for the worker, it does not contribute to welfare contributions etc. But also, from a more abstract point of view, it makes a worker’s compensation look like something that is up to my good will. And it should not be so. In Italy, for example, tipping is absolutely optional, and is a way to demonstrate you particularly appreciated some place/service; it’s not a way for the workers to be able to survive.
I remember reading an article that the single largest benefactor from the U.S. ‘SNAP’ (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, aka what used to be food stamps) is Wal-Mart:
– Wal-Mart pays much of its staff bare minimum wage, which means they need to apply for SNAP
– Wal-Mart is often the only grocery store left in town, and even more often the only one that accepts SNAP
– Wal-Mart does provide a ‘staff discount’ encouraging staffers to shop there, keeping it all in house.
Can’t find the original article, but from an article regarding possible cuts to SNAP:
Wal-Mart gets $13B from the U.S. government, largely by underpaying their own workers so the workers need the assistance.
Oh kids, have I got some bad news for you about the minimum wage for the disabled.
Vox article: https://www.vox.com/2018/5/3/17307098/workers-disabilities-minimum-wage-waiver-rock-river-valley-self-help
Politfact article: https://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/aug/12/tom-harkin/can-employers-actually-pay-disabled-americans-belo/
Another person here living in “Europe” — which, as others have already pointed out, is a very wide and diverse place (indeed, I lived for years-at-a-time in multiple countries) — and who has also lived in the States, and who goes out to eat one or more times a day frequently… I also find theassertion-without-evidence baffling. I can think of specific instances where there was an unacceptable problem (indeed, I had one last Saturday), but the ratio unacceptable:otherwise does not support the asserted gross overgeneralisation. It’s a rarity, an exceptional rarity. And I suspect that if you use a ratio of not-excellent:excellent, it both still doesn’t hold & doesn’t hold by a significant margin.
As I forgot how to quote here… That explains a lot, like why European countries tend not to have a tradition of tipping, while this country with its legacy of slavery does.
Heavily depends on where you are in Europe. Tipping also has different forms, so to speak. For example, those capable of doing their waiter job very good and have an affinity for foreign languages have left my birth country and based on what I read, people are not impressed, who’s left.
I did know that Florida was a forerunner aiming it is this low, happened around the same time The Daily Show tried and failed to get the governor’s urine sample (after he claimed famously to revoke assistance to poor people if they test positive. Lovers of bagels, stay clear of the poppy seed ones, ’cause it will show, much like with that pregnant lady recently that you’re hooked on opioids). Anyhow, doctors (speaking of childbirth) have only recently had to adapt to new rules, namely that tips as a token of thanks given after a procedure is legal, but before it is not. One doctor just got convicted for such an act after he demanded the going rate, 200 bucks for safe delivery. Sorry, going rate here means the tip. When my cousins were born way back when, if you dared not to tip the doctor, you prayed for not having any complications, ’cause the free health care did cover that, they just didn’t care.
As for the solution, I’m in a serious bind here. From a purely mathematical standpoint, a human worker is a replaceable object like a wrench, it’s not the employer’s job to pay a living wage. Except before Rand Paul would jump up in joy, I support a single breadwinner supporting wife and kids are something I support even less, from a capitalistic standpoint. It’s the responsibility of the social cohesion, the common culture to care and to ensure the private sector can’t discriminate. Which it used to do in America, giving birth to this chimera of employer-offered benefits. Most European versions either give tax credits, incentives or reimbursement for such benefits.
It’s simple the same guy who hires strikebreakers to keep production going cannot be the same scout’s honor will constantly pay your benefits, it’s a contradiction. The core problem is the too liberal interpretation of state’s rights. The German example is (which is famously a basic law American scholars helped concoct) that locals or provincial ordinances, regulations, and laws cannot oppose the federal law. It should be set to the living conditions of the state.
However, because that will take forever, let’s start a PAC called Soy Latte from a Soy farmer. We’ve seen Trump bailing them out, so let’s trick him that his Mar-A-Lago staff is also soy farmers on the side.
chigau (違う) says
That is gibberish.
What is your point?
@chigau #91: Mr. Myers said European countries do not have a tradition of tipping, which is an unintentional blanket statement. Not only do some countries have that, but it’s not just for waiters. It’s also for taxi drivers, hairdressers, but most importantly medical personnel. In relation to that, I said that giving such a bribe for a successful procedure (which should be their job anyway) is legal if it’s given afterward. It used to be paid forward, and many are exempt as far as I know, which should not be surprising when hospitals have gotten so good that they installed vending machines for toilet paper and paper tissue.
Obviously, the soy latte was a joke. My solution is as unAmerican as it can get. It’d take into account the cultural paradigm shift where an upcoming generation might not adhere to the customs of the past, so to avoid such low wages, the rights of states to differ from federal guidelines should be taken away and replaced by the lowest income of that state (to appease the GOP). Which is why I joked about it. The provision to gut the bill was exactly written in so that the GOP wouldn’t block it.
It’s fairly obvious that libertarianism in practice only means “keep the power dynamics in my favor”. Their economic advisors know that if a person gets into poverty, it will take 3 generations for the family to come out of it (in some countries it’s 8 generations).
You know, it’s kind of funny that I noticed the comments here today, since FAIR just published a piece titled “The Vast Majority of Tipped Workers in America Suffer from Three Times the Poverty Rate of the Rest of the US Workforce“, also today. Sure puts the lie to the claim that tipping makes tipped workers so happy because if they only had minimum wage they’d be poor!
Europe isn’t the only region without a tipping culture, Australia doesn’t have one either. We (theoretically) pay our service staff enough to live on. Unfortunately some restaurateurs are ‘wage thieves’ ie they don’t pay their employees the level that the law requires. Regrettably the insidious practice is infiltrating here as well because of increased international tourism.
Australians have a reputation for stinginess in the US, because many don’t tip. When in Rome.
I’ve also wondered whether tipping is a legacy of America’s slave culture.
@secondtofirstworld, you are confusing tipping with bribes. Those two things are not interchangeable.
John Morales says
Charly, not interchangeable, but both are similar in the sense that they’re literally discretionary, and they’re also effectively a cost of doing good business.
In places where tipping is customary, one must factor in that cost before deciding a purchase is worthwhile. It’s a cost that’s immoral yet advisable to pay.
(And I’d rather not have the server discreetly spit in my food in subsequent visits)
So, in the case at hand (not-quite-Great America), employees’ wages are insufficient without tips.
The salient fact here is that it’s not a matter of choosing to reward a server for good service, but that if one doesn’t give that discretionary “gratuity” one is essentially robbing the server.
Clearly, that server’s employer(s) are content with that, rather than (say) raising their prices to a degree that allows their wage payments to equate to the original wage and “gratuities”.
Imagine. They could prominently display a sign to the effect that they are paying their employees living wages and that any tipping is actually a gratuity, rather than a “gratuity”.
Bribes are illegal and not systemic unless the system is lawless itself. Such handouts like the ones I’m talking about are not mandatory. How could I put this? If you were in the situation you could refuse and get a very basic service, but the actors in these deals made it into a custom to give money for a better service (which would be default by law).
This goes back to the ’50s when the command was that white-collar workers cannot earn more than blue-collar ones as an incentive to learn because they don’t do productive work (i.e. setting up a diagnosis isn’t worth as much as harvesting corn). Of course, reality soon caught up with that but since Soviet socialist states needed to seem egalitarian, the rest of their actual wages at first came in the form of what (normally rightfully so) you call a bribe. After their wages went up it just became a tip, then was the regime change and it became part of the wages again for a few years.
It’s similar to Florida because lawmakers fully expect (although I don’t know why, Florida is a heavy tourism state, meaning nonlocals not part of the custom) patrons to always, in the same fashion extend the wage of workers. This is where I wasn’t wrong calling that a textbook capitalist where a human worker is but a tool like a wrench. The intent may be different but the powers that be disenfranchise a whole class. In both cases, neither lawmaker was ever part of the process and as a consequence part of the sacrifice. Shouldn’t surprise me, my de jure govt just abolished special taxes for severance packages and their own rule that state-employed fund managers can’t earn more than 10 thousand dollars a month, now 2 of them will earn 25.
John Morales says
Not the same either, but:
The head of hospitality sector superannuation fund Hostplus has defended spending $300,000 on tickets to sporting events for clients and staff, saying it was the price of doing business.
@John Morales #98:
I have long since learned, that when a central bank gives taxpayer money to its foundations they automatically lose their property of being public money, but when one of the said foundations supports a program earmarked for a sensitivity training for refugees (which it didn’t by the way) said funding can be abruptly cut.
I wish we lived in a world where we both talk about Central Asia where nobody bats an eye over such a thing happening but something tells me neither of us were.
That comment that PZ quoted demonstrates something I’ve noticed more and more; racist white people think it’s racist to point out white people’s racism.