Tipping the Scales

Americans eat out a lot.
Americans eat a lot.

Five generations of fast food have created endemic obesity. Diabetes is a ‘when’ more than an if. Food additives are an amazing substitute for food. A loaf of sliced bread will last for a month in the US without ever having tasted like bread, but also without ever growing mold. Give us this day our monthly bread!

I know many Americans that eat out more than 15 times a week – breakfast, lunch and dinner. The cost of these ‘food substitute’ meals is enormous, even though the price at the register may seem small. Many people purchase from the dollar menu – $1 double cheeseburgers and a $1 coffee, $0.79 tacos and a large Pepsi the list goes on…

The custom in the US is to tip whenever there is table service. Those costs are added to the direct consumer cost, but not really figured by anyone when they work out their budget.

Pricing of many products is a hidden thing.

Cars are $159 per month, houses are $750 per month, with the real cost being obscured in paperwork somewhere. Consumer goods have a variable Sales Tax added at the register – except for gas…. (go figger!)

So, we sit down at a small restaurant, order a cheese and ham sandwich and a coffee for a total of maybe $5.00. Tax is added at 7.5 % at the register and then we struggle to work out the 15% tip that is to be added to that. Some will leave a tip on the table, some will add it to the register total, some will pass a waiter a few $1 notes and hope it covers it.

This is all because Americans know that the minimum wage for waiters is below the poverty line, and they are ‘obligated’ to give the waiter a tip to offset these pay rates.
I know of staff that are paid $2.50 per hour by their ’employer’ and survive on tips. Obviously the system works, because students (especially) are lining up for $2.50 per hour jobs, betting that they will have a happy group of clients arrive that will tip (pay) them well.

To an outsider, this is classist, demeaning, exploitative, archaic and an echo of the slave trade.

This defines the employee as one that has no job security, that has to take as much of a gamble on their earnings as the owner, but without any say in the marketing or running of that business.

To me, tipping is graft.

I say that because the definition of graft includes paying someone else’s employees to receive special service. As a consumer, I am paying someone to serve me, not the restaurant owner – where can an employee show loyalty in that equation?

How about this America….

Come clean about the pricing of everything. Add the Sales Tax, reasonable wages and the real cost of that meal all in together on the Menu, so the consumer is aware of the full price from the outset.
Ban tipping – full stop. No handouts to people, no creating classism, no fostering a system which is archaic and demeaning, just vote with your feet and only eat at those places that have an all inclusive menu.
The actual prices won’t have to change – but the menus will have to be re-printed to show the real price. Just the way that the advertised price of gas is the actual price of gas.

I realize that you are used to the system and it seems to work. But that’s the reason it seems to work, because it’s always been done that way. It doesn’t have to be done that way.

Disallow tipping – make it illegal across the country. We don’t need to round up to save carrying a wad of change, we use credit cards. Be honest – charge the real price.
Of course, parts of Southern Europe do it worse… There can be seating taxes, footpath taxes, city taxes, cover charges, and gratuities all automatically added to the bill, and that’s all for the owner – then you are supposed to leave an extra 15% (+) on the table for the waiter. Welcome to the $19 coffee!!!

Is that the way to go America?

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