Just In Time For Christmas, Here Are All The Bad Arguments And Rationalizations Against Tipping So You Can Feel Self-Righteous About Being A Scrooge

See? The rest of the world knows how to deal with you sexist, racist, aristocratic poverty perpetuating, self-esteem destroying bastards!

See? The rest of the world knows how to deal with you sexist, racist, aristocratic poverty perpetuating, self-esteem destroying bastards!

Vox has published an entertaining screed against tipping, massing all the contradictory, facile rationalizations and faulty arguments against demonstrating one’s gratitude when someone serves you well. This is Vox, remember—Ezra Klein’s uber-progressive website with an agenda. Think about what the alternative to tipping is, and where the critics of tipping are going with these claims. Hint 1: It has nothing to do with democracy or individualism. Hint 2: The piece argues that tipping is classist, racist, sexist, “lookist”…the works.

The full illogical, ethically confused character of this junk has to be read to be fully appreciated, but here is a quick overview:

1. Hoary old quotes. There are these, for example:

English author Lynne Truss on visiting New York: “In this great financial capital … tips are not niceties: give a ‘thank you’ that isn’t green and foldable and you are actively starving someone’s children.” No, Lynne, you’re being cheap, that’s all.

The Village Voice’s Foster Kamer: “It reinforces an economically and socially dangerous status quo, while buttressing a functional aristocracy.”   Ah. You see, if lower paid service professions are treated like robots and underpaid, they will rise up and overturn this monstrosity called capitalism.

 Michael Lewis: “I feel we are creeping slowly toward a kind of baksheesh economy in which everyone expects to be showered with coins simply for doing what they’ve already been paid to do.” Who is being “showered with coins?”

2. “Tipping lets employers off the hook.” Translation: It gets in the way of the progressive “living wage” campaign. Mandatory salary levels drive businesses out of business and reduce jobs. Want to see all restaurants go to the iPad, self-ordering, system running rampant at airport restaurants—and no, I don’t tip a runner who just carried my food to the table—by all means, force restaurants to pay “a living wage.”

3.  “Tipping is undemocratic.” This is the George Orwell, “Peace is War” argument. The government should stop me from giving my money to whoever I want in the name of democracy.

4.  “Tipping doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do.” Don’t tell ME what it’s “supposed to do.” I tip people who are pleasant to deal with. I tip people to thank them for doing a job I would hate. I tip people because they are young, or old, or new to this country, or trying to raise a family on the sweat of their brow, to show that I respect them and am grateful, and to say, “I’ve been where you are, and I appreciate that its hard. Keep at it, and you’ll have more opportunities.”  When I tip, it does exactly what it’s “supposed to do.”

5. “Tipping is discriminatory.”  Vox is so sloppy, intellectually and in its use of the English language. What Klein’s cyber-rag means is that some people are biased and bigoted in who they tip. The statement is like saying that voting is discriminatory, dating is discriminatory, hiring is discriminatory…any human activity in which biases can influence us are discriminatory. Let’s ban them all. As a bonus, here is a paragraph that might stand as one of the great examples of knee-jerk progressive reasoning:

“But not only are black servers making less money than white servers — black diners are perceived to be leaving less money than white diners. Data collected in 2009 from over 1,000 servers all across the US “found that over sixty-five percent [of servers] rated African Americans as below average tippers.” As a result, restaurant workers of all colors dislike waiting on black customers, studies found. The economy of tipping is so racially charged that both servers and diners are affected by prejudice.”

If you can’t see what’s wrong with this  Catch-22 logic, seek help immediately. Or stop reading Vox.

You can also find a great “lookism” argument in this section: one study shows that men tip attractive women more than unattractive women. Yup–being attractive—also taking care of yourself, eating right, exercising, using good hygiene, having breath that doesn’t melt my glasses, having a pleasant personality, all of which enhance attractiveness—is an asset in this competitive world. Here’s something else that will get you a bigger tip if you serve me: speaking so I can understand what the hell you’re saying. Discrimination against non-native English speakers, you say? Baloney. Its motivation to learn to communicate in the nation you have chosen to live and work in, not that you should need any. Yes, I resent needing a translator to do business in my own country.

6. “Tipping might be illegal.” The article quotes as persuasive Village Voice writer Foster Kramer as he makes the jaw-droppingly ignorant claim that tipping violates the Constitution. Morons. Nothing an individual does without government participation violates the Constitution.

7.  “Tipping is not really charitable.” The flawed argument Vox uses here is that it is mandatory, and hence not a gift. No, if it’s mandatory, it’s not tipping.

___________________________

Pointer: Fark

 

 

20 thoughts on “Just In Time For Christmas, Here Are All The Bad Arguments And Rationalizations Against Tipping So You Can Feel Self-Righteous About Being A Scrooge

  1. (Sarcasm alert)

    Using the logic you described above I can make a similar arguments against a progressive tax system. Isn’t such a system “classist, racist, sexist, “lookist”…the works.

    “Tipping (progressive taxes) lets employers (citizens)off the hook” Rephrased – Progressive taxes let low income earners from not paying an equivalent share of the costs associated with increased demand for government services.

    “Tipping (progressive taxes) is undemocratic.” In this case, progressive taxes incentivize higher rate payers to seek special more favorable tax treatment by virtue of their ability to pay for lawyers and special interest groups. Hence it is undemocratic to create a system in which one group gets more access to decision makers.

    Tipping (progressive taxes) doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do. Giving the government more money based in what an individual earns does not create an efficient means to create social order and deliver pure public goods. Nor does it eliminate partisanship, economical use of resources or provide for the highest and best use of the funds. Example: Trillions have been spent on poverty but the poverty rates have climbed recently.

    “Tipping (progressive taxes) is discriminatory. In this case the disproportionate share of the tax burden falls on one racial classification.

    “Tipping (progressive taxes) is not really charitable.” First, I never considered either charity to begin with. Tipping is the value that I put on the relative service level. Progressive taxes – despite being called a “voluntary system” is mandatory and I have no effective say in how to evaluate the service level.

  2. I’m sure it’s been addressed here at one point or another, but in browsing previous articles with the ‘tipping’ tag, I can’t seem to find it. What’s your point of view of restaurants that put mandatory tipping clauses on their menus? “All items are subject to an X% tip” and “Groups of X or more subject to a 20% gratuity”, specifically.

    I have to admit, I tip, and I tip often, but my tip has absolutely nothing to do with the cost of the bill and everything to do with the service provided. This might irk the Keg wait staff who gets a ten, but probably thrills the coffee shop people, and the level of gratitude my tip gets concerns me very little.

    • Bingo.

      Why would waiter X who gives exceptional service and makes me feel like a King at Johnny Grease’s Dine and Barf, get $2 proportional tip when waiter Z who gives exceptional service and makes me feel like a King as L’Snoot Gastronomie du Terroir get $20 proportional tip, if one believes that the society’s customary percentage is the way to go.

      Screw that.

      Tips aren’t a function of plate price. They’re a function of the value added by the server.

      • I believe it should be called a “service charge” in that case, which at least would sound legit, since more work is in fact required for a party of six or more than for a couple.

        • Every menu I’ve seen has described it as a “service charge” (although sometimes explained as “gratuity” charge for service).

          I think it addresses a real problem that large groups tend to forget to tip, (without necessarily any malice or even comment on service), and yet do in fact require more service than a smaller group. While at a birthday party, the large group we were in took ten minutes at the register just to pay the bill, and were rung up and sent out the door the moment we hit the amount due the restaurant. (One of us soon turned around and tipped the waitress, embarrassed that we overlooked it.) This restaurant had no service charge. The only unethical thing might be to allow blind “double tipping” without at least pointing out/explaining the policy first.

  3. “I tip people who are pleasant to deal with. I tip people to thank them for doing a job I would hate. I tip people because they are young, or old, or new to this country, or trying to raise a family on the sweat of their brow, to show that I respect them and am grateful, and to say, “I’ve been where you are, and I appreciate that its hard. Keep at it, and you’ll have more opportunities.” When I tip, it does exactly what it’s “supposed to do.””

    Do you tip your lawn care professionals?

  4. Vox clearly has writers, editors, research staff that both have a ridiculous agenda and inadequate intellectual abilities to advance it. (I would dearly love to see the actual research on black waiters/black patrons and tipping…I challenge Vox to come up with the organization that did this research, their research protocols, etc. Morons…) I tip waiters (who have awful jobs, support others, need to pay their college tuition, etc.); cabbies (especially if they know where they’re going) who routinely get me out of transportation jams when my car is unavailable; at Christmas, I “gift” — is that a tip? — the man that delivers our morning paper at 6:00 am every day, rain or shine; also at Christmas our postman (er, “letter carrier”), who is clearly past retirement and clearly could use some extra cash since he looks about 70 and is still walking the postal beat…

    I do not tip hotel room service personnel, because their tip is included in the bill. I often leave a tip for the person who cleans my hotel room when I’m there for more than a day, because I’m a slob in hotels (if it’s not included in the multitude of taxes, fees, etc., that hotels always add on).

    I also regularly give some money to the homeless vet — and his dog — that I see in the same place all the time. Call me a sap, but I don’t live on the street, am warm and safe day and night, and care about his — and his dog’s — welfare, and have this odd ethic that people should help people. Shame on me. But I’m not homeless, can afford a few bucks, and I always ask him to please, buy food not booze. And silly me, from the look of him, he’s neither drunk nor on drugs — just at the bottom of a horrible life. That I should be kind might be UNCONSTITUTIONAL? Jeez, maybe I should re-read the Constitution, and find the place that tells me I’m committing a crime by exercising my given right to be kind.

    Ridiculous. And I won’t go into “progressive tax” discussions. Let others try and flesh this out even though it’s a stretch to pull this into the conversation about tipping.

    Happy Holidays — both to the tippers and the cheap Scrooges who don’t.

  5. Seems like some of those miserly folks must have watched “Third Rock from the Sun” character Dick Solomon’s approach to tipping:

    Like Tex, my tips have more to do with service provided than plate price. Having augmented my “real job” income by bartending for several years in my younger days, I tend to tip generously. Kindness is its own reward.

  6. When in the US, I pay what I’d pay in Australia (with its $17 minimum wage)
    Then add a tip for service if that’s appropriate.

    I tend to frugality so the wait staff might get a $10 tip on a $5 breakfast that would cost $15 if wages were realistic.

    Regarding Police – this is a good discussion.
    http://www.cappe.edu.au/docs/working-papers/Coleman%202.pdf

    In Turkey, it’s customary to leave gratuities to government officials

    Responding to criticism that bribery is common in offices under his control, Mehmet Zeki Adlı said, YTL 15-20, given by citizens, is reflected as bribe. [In our tradition] when people marry or buy houses, they hand out tips of happiness. Thus, the citizen leaves a few liras for the civil servant.”

    • Gratuities to government officials in Turkey? Sounds like bribes to me. I learned in Russia that they are a “gift-giving culture” — especially with government officials, but we all know it’s bribery. This is a different issue than the “tip/gratuity” category, don’t you think? In the U.S., bribing government officials, or even trying to, would land a person in court.

      • In the U.S., bribing government officials, or even trying to, would land a person in court.

        I find your naivety touching.

        It’s more likely to land them in the legislature – or on the bench..

        While I’m sure there are many, many low-level officials who are truly honest, and with integrity, for every one you’ll find someone at the higher levels who “has connections”. Friends of Angelo. They don’t bother to hide it any more, everyone does it.

        It’s only when they fall out of favour by backing the wrong political horse that they run afoul of the law. Spread the gravy around, and they’re immune. If they get greedy, and don’t grease enough palms – this can happen:
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kids_for_cash_scandal

        But usually, nada. Too big to fail, too big to jail, too many connections.

        It happens everywhere, in all countries to a greater or lesser degree. All you can do is try to minimise it, and if they get too blatant about it (as in Turkey), inconvenience them.

        • The US is extremely good about preventing outright bribery. Lobbying/campaign contributions are something else, a narrowly legal version of legal bribery, but if you screw up, you very well might go to jail. Ask Duke Cunningham.

  7. It gets in the way of the progressive “living wage” campaign.

    Here is what I do not get.

    A wage is the price one has to pay in exchange for a service.

    Why should not the living wage rationale be applied to the prices of all goods and services? Why not set minimum prices for all goods and services, so that the seller can live off the money received?

    If such a rationale should not be applied for the sale of oil, or carrots, or DVD’s, what makes wages different from other prices such that those who sell labor must have a minimum price in order to live off the money receive, but sellers of oil, carrots, or DVD’s should not be guaranteed a minimum price so that they could live off the money received?

    • The antitheses strawman is for prices to be set by negotiation.

      I put a gun to your head and demand you give me your house for 1c or else.

      It’s a commercial contract, right?

      We don’t allow that. despite it infringing on rights to free negotiation. There are limits. The question that remains is what should those limits be? Where is the optimum point where we maximise personal liberty, while preventing degeneration into Feudalism and Anarchy?

      Accept that principle, that fanatical ideology – be it of the “dictatorship of the proletariat” kind or its antithesis isn’t applicable, and we can then have a sensible debate, without erecting strawmen.

      For unfettered contracts to actually work, there can’t be a gross imbalance in relative power. A surgeon can’t be allowed in the middle of a procedure to demand a higher fee. Nor a union be allowed to strike in wartime.

      In the US, there has been massive re-distribution of wealth, even greater than that of fanatic socialism at its very worst. Only the direction has changed. The only thing stopping 0.1% of the population from owning 99% of the wealth through bribery and gaming the system is the power of the ballot.Currently 0.1% own 40%. Think about it.

      The way the power of the ballot is negated is to convince the 99.9% that it is only right and proper that this be so, That it is morally wrong to demand a living wage, and not penury lest even worse befall them. To convince them that there is no imbalance of power, that they’re being treated fairly. The numbers say otherwise.

      The worst thing fanatic socialism did was to provide examples where the mob demanded free stuff, bread and circuses, from those who did the real productive work. That discredited the whole idea. Any group that has too much power apparently inevitably misuses it.

      • A surgeon can’t be allowed in the middle of a procedure to demand a higher fee. Nor a union be allowed to strike in wartime.

        There are things such as implied contracts. Starting a surgical procedure is effectively entering into an implied contract.

        Currently 0.1% own 40%. Think about it.

        Think about this. Who is in that 0.1% frequently changes. Jack Marshall once wrote that most lottery winners lose their fortunes within ten years. It is plain and clear that most rich people have trouble staying rich; just ask Heidi Montag or Warren Sapps. If that were not the case, almost all lottery winners would stay rich for life, and Jack Marshall would not have wrote what he wrote about lottery winners.

        That it is morally wrong to demand a living wage, and not penury lest even worse befall them.

        No one says it is wrong, just as no one says it is wrong for sellers of goods and services to demand a high enough price that they can live off of it.

        But why should wages be treated differently than the price for pizza, or wine, or pills, or anything else?

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