Restaurant Tipping: 15 or 20 Percent?

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LA Weekly’s Jonathan Gold has some advice about tipping:

Tip 20 percent. Every time. Pre-tax? Post-tax? In practice the difference is no more than a buck or two….Yes, I know your parents still talk about when the recommended percentage used to be 15 percent, and that the practice is considered barbaric in Japan. But it’s not 1973, and you’re probably not in Osaka at the moment. 20 percent.

I figure this is something readers might know something about, so: When did this change? After 1973, apparently, but that’s a little vague. And why? Do food servers make less in ordinary wages than they used to? I don’t think that’s the case, though I might be wrong. And just generally, tipping seems like it’s perfectly designed to keep up with the cost of living. And it has: To geek out about this a bit, the chart on the right shows headline inflation vs. the inflation rate for “food away from home.” There’s a slight divergence during the recent recession, but that’s it. Overall, the rate has been pretty much the same. Restaurant bills have gone up as much as everything else.

Anyway, I’m not trying to campaign for stingier tips for food servers. I’m fine with 20 percent, and it’s certainly easier to calculate. But I’m trying to distract myself from the grim political news of late and just sort of curious about when and why the recommended practice changed. Or is Jonathan Gold wrong?

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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