New Anti-Tipping Trend Actually Part of a Long-Standing Heritage

Dec 9, 2015

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Recently a number of high-end US restauranteurs made headlines when they banned tipping in their establishments. But as NPR.org reports, this supposedly new trend is actually part of a long anti-tipping heritage dating back to Emerson. The Sage of Concord said of the practice: "I sometimes succumb and give the dollar, yet it is a wicked dollar, which, by and by, I shall have the manhood to withhold."

Tipping arrived as a custom from Europe and began to spread in post-Civil War America. Back then, it was called "a cancer in the breast of democracy," and deemed "offensively un-American." Other powerful members of the anti-tipping camp include John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie.

The heart of the issue has always been that, according to critics, tipping creates low wages for servers. This in turn makes them dependent on the generosity of strangers. One irony: Though Americans imported tipping from Europe, countries such as France have long done away with the custom.