Friday, March 27, 2015

Does the new minimum wage mean an end to tipping? « Hot Air

Does the new minimum wage mean an end to tipping? « Hot Air
Rushing through a steep increase in the minimum wage is going to have a number of effects on businesses, the prices consumers pay and employment. All of that is pretty much a given as we’ve discussed here on multiple occasions. At the LA Times, Michael Hiltzik takes a look at how such a change will affect one particular subset of lower wage workers, as well as one of the long established customs of American society… tipping. Strangely, the author seems to feel that tipping is not a plus for wait staff workers who excel at their jobs and bring home more money, but some sort of anchor around their necks.
The gradual move toward a higher minimum wage in many localities has revived the debate over restaurant tipping–not that it’s ever been too far below the surface.

There’s a good reason for the new attention on tipping: a differential between the minimum for tipped and non-tipped workers has been introduced in some places along with the higher minimum. It’s also advocated elsewhere, typically at the suggestion of restaurant owners who say it would moderate the strain on their bottom lines…

[T]ipping is an unfair mess. That’s absolutely true. As it’s practiced in the U.S., tipping is not even well understood by the diners who pay it. It causes resentment among recipients and headaches for their employers, and it’s subject to racial and gender distortions. As fundamental components of workers’ wages, tips are exploitative. According to the National Employment Law Project, they’re “notoriously erratic,” varying from shift to shift and by season, and shrinking during economic downturns.
Hiltzik’s argument will sound familiar to anyone who follows liberal complaints on virtually any subject which touches on the economy. Tipping, he seems to argue, is unfair to the lower paid worker because not everyone receives the same benefit and outside factors can affect how well the worker is compensated. In conservative circles, the explanation for this is summed up in easily digestible terms. The author is looking for equality of outcome rather than equality of opportunity.

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