I hope all wait staff know who Stuart Varney is

There has been a growing movement to make $15 the minimum wage for all employees in any job. Currently the wait staff in restaurants can be paid much less than the federally mandated minimum wage because they supposedly make it up in tips. That is in addition to working conditions that are far worse than in many other professions and lacking many benefits that other people take for granted.

Stuart Varney is an extreme right-wing host on one of the Fox TV channels and he speculates that if the minimum wage is raised for wait staff, he might be inclined to not tip them at all or tip them less than the standard 15-20%.

While discussing new minimum wage laws, Varney accused the policies of strangling the economy and proposed taking the conservative fiscal fight right to the laborers.

“If I walk into a restaurant and I know the waiter or waitress is making $15 an hour, way more than they used to make the previous year, I am going to say, ‘wait a minute am I going to give you 20%, 15% or whatever?’” questioned Varney, whose punditry on Fox Business Network has made him a multi-millionaire.

Yes you should, because they are still struggling to make a living while you are not.

It is quite disgusting to see very wealthy people resenting the idea that the lives of those less well-off might be improving slightly. Varney is likely not stupid even if he says stupid things. Surely he must realize that wait staff also watch TV and read the news and that some of them will recognize him when he goes to their restaurant and will know his views. Surely he must also realize that the people working in restaurants have ways of retaliating against obnoxious people.

But you should not be nice to wait staff merely because you fear retaliation. You should be nice to them because it is the right thing to do. They work long hours at a tiring job for low pay. The least you could do is not add to their load.


  1. blf says

    There’s a scam in the UK called “tronc” which, in its dry definition sense, seems workable: “(in a hotel or restaurant) a common fund into which tips and service charges are paid for distribution to the staff.” So naturally, it’s abused, Members’ club backed by Lord Ashcroft seeks to cut staff’s basic pay (whilst this article is about a private members club, resturants &tc open to the public are also known absuers):

    Staff at an exclusive private members’ club […] have been asked to take a cut in their basic pay in return for a share of the service charge, in a move that could leave low-paid workers vulnerable while reducing the company’s tax payments.

    Workers at the Devonshire Club in London, where members pay £2,400 a year […], were asked last month if they would take a formal pay cut that would reduce their earnings to the level of the legal minimum wage.

    They were promised that their total pay would be topped up to the current level using money from the service charges automatically added to customers’ bills and distributed via a system called a tronc.

    The scheme would potentially cut the Devonshire Club’s tax bill as, unlike basic pay, national insurance payments are not levied on independently distributed tips.

    Although staff will save on national insurance in the short term under the scheme, cutting their contributions will affect statutory protections such as redundancy pay, maternity or paternity pay, or the state pension. Money from a tronc also cannot be included in staff contracts, potentially leaving staff vulnerable to a pay cut.


    Dave Turnbull, regional officer at the Unite union, said: “Since the introduction of the national living wage we have seen evidence of this model spreading rapidly across hotels and restaurants. HMRC [UK IRS –blf] seem oblivious to what is happening here.”


    The service charge is typically automatically added to the bill, so this isn’t quite as abusive as it could be.

  2. Holms says

    I partially side -- to my own amazement -- with Varney on this one, though for different reasons. The whole justification for tipping is that it makes up for a huge shortfall in the income of these employees; simultaneously, the existence of tipping is used to justify the awful base pay they recieve. Eliminate both. No tipping, no shortfall in wage to require tipping.

    The only question is what the houly rate needs to be in order to achieve this. Oh and of course the rate would need to be continually adjusted in accordance with inflation, or perhaps some sort of ‘cost of living’ index. $15 / hr has achieved a sort of legendary status, but even if the figure was adopted as the start point, it would not stay at taht nice round figure for very long.

  3. jaxkayaker says

    Waitstaff pay should not be dependent on the goodwill of customers. Tips should be eliminated as a form of compensation and proper pay standards instituted,

  4. Mark Dowd says

    The service charge is typically automatically added to the bill, so this isn’t quite as abusive as it could be.

    Why does there need to be a separate “service charge”? There’s a place for those kinds of things, in the ADVERTISED PRICE. Fees and surcharges applied after-the-fact are abusive bullshit and should be outlawed as fraud.
    Give any resturaunt worker a choice between no tips or triple the current minimum wage, and it’s pretty fucking obvious what most of them would take.

  5. blf says

    Why does there need to be a separate “service charge”? There’s a place for those kinds of things, in the ADVERTISED PRICE.

    Yes. This is precisely what is done here in France.


    The whole justification for tipping is that it makes up for a huge shortfall in the income of these employees

    No, not the “whole justification”, Why do we tip?:

    […] Michael Lynn, a professor at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, [… has] published more than 50 papers on the topic, examining everything from racial bias in tipping practices to whether giving after-dinner candy increases a server’s tips (the answer is yes).


    NEWSHOUR: What are the motivations behind tipping?
    MICHAEL LYNN: I think that there are five basic motives for tipping. Some people tip to show off. Some people tip to help the server, to supplement their income and make them happy. Some people tip to get future service. And then other people tip to avoid disapproval: You don’t want the server to think badly of you. And some people tip out of a sense of duty.


    NH: How can servers increase their tips?
    ML: The biggest thing a server can do is to sell more. […]

    After that, then what they need to do is to establish rapport, some social connection with the table. […] If you learn their name, call them by their name. Anything you can do to increase social rapport is going to increase your tips pretty substantially.

    NH: So the customer’s perception of the server is more important than their perception of the service?
    ML: Yes. I may like a server and feel a social connection to him but not give him a super great rating of service. Or I could give someone a great service rating and feel no social connection to them. Their social connection and service ratings are not the same thing.


  6. busterggi says

    Are we supposed to believe that Varney is a big tipper?

    Because his generousity knows serious boundaries.

  7. sonofrojblake says

    I’m with Varney, and Holms, also to my amazement. Pay the staff a decent wage, advertise the price, and I’ll pay it, or not. Japan have the right idea -- tipping there is practically an insult.

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