Radio Derb Transcript Archived
October 22, 2015, 07:30 AM
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A transcript of the October 16th podcast is now archived on my website.

Among the minor items is this one on tipping.  And, yes, it's on-topic, if only at the very end.

What do we think about tipping?

The news story here is that Union Square Hospitality Group, which encompasses thirteen of New York City's restaurants, will eliminate tipping from its properties as of November. There will be an across-the-board increase in prices to make up for the extra remuneration to tipless wait staff.

I think most people feel as I do: That tipping is a bit silly, but it's one of those harmless minor features of the social world we've all gotten used to and can barely be bothered to have a real opinion about.

If I must have an opinion, I say let's get rid of tipping. Unless the waiter has been exceptionally good or exceptionally bad, I just divide the bill amount by seven then round up to get the tip amount; but performing mental arithmetic after four or five slugs of Pinot Grigio is a chore I'll be glad to dispense with.

I'm not sure this will work at the really high end of the business, though. It used to be the case, and for all I know still is, that places like the London Waldorf hired wait staff on negative salaries. That is, instead of the employer paying the employee to do the job, the employee paid the employer for the privilege of working there, the tips easily covering that with a living wage left over.

Those highest-end places may soon be the only establishments that have wait staff. What waiters do can easily be robotized, with great cost savings to the restaurant. There is already a fully automated restaurant in San Francisco. Middle-class diners of 2025 will order on an iPad and get their food by drone. Perhaps restaurants will just disappear, as cinemas are doing.

Skivvy labor is headed for extinction. Someone please tell me again why we need mass unskilled immigration …