OpinionTrending Commentary

Subsidized Diners Demand We Pay Mandatory Tips

Nate Beeler, The Columbus Dispatch

I may have discovered the real reason people living in blue states don’t contribute as much to charity as those living in red states. It’s not that they are hypocrites whose ‘compassion’ doesn’t extend to their own wallets.

It’s because all their discretionary giving is going to restaurant tips.

Getting woke is getting expensive. A recent headline in the WoePost issues an order with all the grace of the director of a Chinese organ–harvesting plant telling you to lie down and do your duty.

“Poor service? You still have to tip 20 percent, no matter what.”

Before we explore the astonishing ‘reasoning’ behind that edict from our social superiors, let’s digress into tipping history.

Up until the early ‘70s the standard tip for good service was 10 percent. Generations finished their career satisfied with 10 percent, content in the knowledge they were getting exactly the same percentage as God Almighty.

Then inflation hit the country. In 1973 inflation jumped to 8.7 percent and peaked at 13.3 percent in 1979. I remember groceries being so expensive I ate hamburger with my eggs because I couldn’t afford bacon.

Mathematically illiterate reporters decided inflation was harming wait staff. They decreed the 10 percent tip was no longer enough in inflationary times and it must be boosted to 15 percent.

Management was behind the idea because it was no skin off their nose and food service employees weren’t letting this bandwagon get away.

Unfortunately, like so many bright ideas brought to you by the media, the theory was both wrong and had no basis in fact.

Let’s say a restaurant check in 1972 totaled $10.00. By 1979 inflation boosted the check for the same dinner (maybe it included bacon) to $20.00. That’s an increase of 100 percent! By comparison, the tip in 1972, at the standard 10 percent, was $1.00. In 1979 the tip had increased to $2.00.

By Jove that’s an increase of 100 percent, too, a fact that escaped reporters and etiquette ‘experts’ because they can’t grasp that the size of the tip increases in lockstep with the size of the check.

Today we enjoy a stretch of historically low inflation rates, but that doesn’t matter to Hospitality–Journalism Misinformation Complex. Now they’ve decided 20 percent is the minimum and they’ve tripled the responsibilities of the diner.

If this keeps up, it won’t be just Long John Silver that wants us to bus the tables.

This new edict comes from the food critic for the WoePost, an individual who not only eats on the company dime, he tips on the company dime, too. That benevolence by proxy insulates him from the cost of his bright idea and transfers the expense to readers.

That’s bad enough, but he can’t even grasp the theory behind tipping in the first place. From atop Mt. Olympus he explains, “I think there is a fundamental misunderstanding about tipping in America. Diners have been led to believe that tipping should be based on the quality of the service. But this is not the reason we tip. We tip because restaurateurs in America have shifted the burden of paying for some of their labor costs to diners. So when you don’t tip, it affects the wages of servers.”

Affecting “the wages of servers” is precisely what the tip is supposed to do! A gratuity is not a participation trophy for being part of my dining experience. It is an acknowledgement of the quality of the service.

My wife works part-time as a server so she has an excuse to get out of the house and away from me. She averages $30.00 an hour in tips alone. No “burden–shifting” restaurateur is going to pay her that kind of wage and stay in business. Even lobbyists couldn’t afford to eat out at those rates.

Subsidizing career choices doesn’t end the diner’s responsibility. Besides payroll, customers are also drafted into Human Resources. With tips being prix fixe the options for responding to poor service are limited to personally explaining job duties to your server or contacting the manager and asking for a new server.

Somehow publicly asking your waiter be fired is an improvement over simply reducing the tip.

Meanwhile your dinner is getting cold.

When I go out to eat it’s not because I always wanted to manage a one–table restaurant. The idea is to take time off from responsibilities, not assume new ones.

The article concludes with this stern admonition: “Like it or not, tipping isn’t about me — or you. It’s simply a responsibility placed on all diners in this country. And you need to factor that in as the full cost of dining out.”

To which the only conceivable reply is: Can I get a side of fries with my Social Justice?

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Michael R Shannon

Michael R. Shannon is a speaker and political commentator who has entertained audiences on four continents and a handful of islands. His dynamic, laugh–out–loud commentary on current events, politics, and culture has connected with audiences in a wide variety of settings including corporate meetings, association conferences, Christian fellowship, political gatherings, university seminars and award dinners. He is the author of "A Conservative Christian's Guidebook for Living in Secular Times (Now with Added Humor!)" available at: https://tinyurl.com/lcqs87c

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  1. Apparently Ron, you failed to understand the point the article made which is this: The increase of the 10% tip of 1972 was directly proportional to the increased price of the meal. The same $10 meal and its $1 tip in 1972 increased to a cost of $20 in 1979 and the 10% tip increased to $2. Both increased by 100%. That’s a 100% raise to the waiter/waitress. If a 10% tip was good in 1972 it should have been good in 1979.

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