Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Sunday, October 01, 2023

Tipping. Aren’t You Sick of It?

The origin of tipping and why America won’t let it go.

When going out to restaurants, your local coffee shop, the nail salon or even the occasional shoe buff at the airport, the question must be asked: Is there a universal tipping standard that fits all types of labor?

The typical American would answer that 20% percent is a standard yet generous amount to tip. But after a recent trip to Spain in July, my mom and I quickly noticed the lack of a line on the bill to add restaurant tips. After a few experiences of us leaving bills on the table, friendly patrons informed us that tips are not required, and when added, even overly generous. 

The answer to why America still requires tips in most labor professions is simple: labor jobs  don't pay even close to livable wages. 

If you are an American, you know and live this. Tipping started in the 1960s as an opportunity for employers to pay their workers below minimum wage if tips remained mandatory. So began a long tradition in the United States for labor workers to rely predominantly on tips. 

As an individual with several friends in the food industry, paychecks at the end of the week are often under $100 because of the low hourly wage and heavy government taxation. Tips are essential to making any profit. 

Yet, after a few weeks in Spain, my mom and I quickly realized the luxury of not adding a tip at the night's end. Instead, a service charge is pre-emptively included into the bill, and a tip could look like a few coins dispatched on the table.

And lately, tips in the United States don’t seem to be going away, but only increasing. In fact, the increase in digital tipping options at checkouts rose from 43.4% to 74.5% from 2020 to 2023. This is specifically being felt in larger American cities. 

The company Square, known for providing electronic payment screens at coffee shops and restaurants, reportedly gets a cut of each transaction, including tips. Therefore the implementation of software encourages Americans to tip more and generously, while simultaneously benefiting companies such as Square

If America — or more specifically, Wisconsin — implemented payable wages, better standards of living for most Americans and the dissipation of tips would follow. 

Gratuity, or tipping, is a voluntary action beyond obligation, typically for some form of service. To be a good patron, what's traditionally implemented as a service to show appreciation toward service jobs is now required in America. 

To show labor positions deserve true generosity and respect, livable wages from the top down remain essential to improve the living standards and overall profession of labor workers in America. 

Do you think that minimum wage in the U.S. isn't nearly enough, and tipping culture is passé? Send all comments to

Enjoy what you're reading? Get content from The Daily Cardinal delivered to your inbox
Support your local paper
Donate Today
The Daily Cardinal has been covering the University and Madison community since 1892. Please consider giving today.

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2023 The Daily Cardinal