Political Animal – Why you should (still) tip generously: a response to Michael O’Hare
Yes, I agree that if tipping were suddenly banned, the likely result is that markets would adjust to some extent, via increases in restaurant wages and prices. Unlike Michael, though, I’m not so sanguine that labor market in the restaurant industry works well enough that workers would entirely make up in wages what they would lose in tips. In case you haven’t noticed, the magic of the market really is not working so well for most wage earners. Productivity continues to soar but nearly everyone’s wages are stagnating or declining, and low-wage earners like restaurant employees are doing worst of all. This economy is a catastrophe and workers, especially those at the lower end of wage spectrum, have precious little bargaining power.
If tips were banned, I have every expectation that employers would opportunistically enact the equivalent of wage cuts, by refusing to make up in wages what workers would lose in tips. After all, what would stop them? The all-powerful labor unions? The many strict, scrupulously enforced labor laws that workers in this country enjoy?