New York restaurateur eliminates bad tippers in his restaurants with a smart new pricing strategy.

Tipping has been standard practice in the United States for over a century.

But why don't we just pay it all in one bill? Let's start at the beginning.


Photo by Nan Palmero/Flickr.

Tipping was started in the 17th century by British aristocrats as what journalist Paul Watcher describes as "a sprinkle of change for social inferiors." It was brought to the U.S. by rich Americans who vacationed in Europe after the Civil War.

When the practice arrived, people weren't that into it — it was viewed as un-American. Despite that, it stuck with us, and today about 4.3 million people make a living mostly on tips.

How did tipping go from being just a little something extra to a full-on means to an end?

The big change came in 1966, when the Fair Labor Standards Act was amended with a subminimum wage for tipped workers and a tip credit for employers.

Through tip credits, employers of tipped workers are being subsidized by consumers at record levels. Chart by Economic Policy Institute.

That change allowed employers of tipped workers to offload the responsibility of paying the legal federal minimum wage onto their customers.

The current federal minimum for tipped workers (those earning more than $30 per month in tips) of $2.13 an hour hasn't budged since 1991, when the inflation-adjusted value of the dollar was 75% higher than it is today. By comparison, the federal minimum wage has been increased six times in the same period.

There's a growing trend in the service industry to toss the tipping system.

One of the latest to join is famed New York restaurateur Danny Meyer, who you may know better as the founder of Shake Shack.

Shake Shack gained national fame after creating burger and fries recipes that turned everyone within a three block radius of their exhaust fan into a beef-craving zombie. This is the original Shake Shack in Madison Square Park, New York City. Photo by Lucius Kwak/Flickr.

Meyer is eliminating the traditional tipping system by building a service charge (and then some) into the prices at all of his full-service restaurants. He wrote on his company website that tipping was getting in the way of their ability to provide "meaningful career opportunities and advancement" for their 1,800 employees.

According to New York Eater, Meyer has been talking about it for decades. In a 1994 newsletter, he explained his qualms with the practice of tipping:

"The American system of tipping is awkward for all parties involved: restaurant patrons are expected to have the expertise to motivate and properly remunerate service professionals; servers are expected to please up to 1,000 different employers (for most of us, one boss is enough!); and restaurateurs surrender their use of compensation as an appropriate tool to reward merit and promote excellence."

All-inclusive pricing could make tipping a thing of the past.

Not all tipped workers struggle under the current system, but most of them aren't servers in fancy restaurants with the guarantee of 20% commissions on every sale. Meyer wants the shift away from tipping to "right what has been a labor of wrong."

"Tipping is awkward," says Danny Meyer. Photo by Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images.

The restaurants will not only take responsibility for fairly compensating their servers, but the price hikes are also going to lift the bottomed-out wages of non-tipped employees, like front-of-the-house staff, cooks, and even entry-level managers.

Photo via iStock.

This could be the start of a new era of humane hospitality.

Meyer is giving the no-tips model some important visibility and traction, but small businesses around the country beat him to implementing all-inclusive pricing.

One of those businesses is Lanesplitter, my go-to pizza joint here in Oakland. They call it a "sustainably served" model. Their employees earn living wages and have access to paid time off, health care, and overtime pay — things all workers deserve.

Sure, ditching the tip might feel like a big change, but when you consider all the downsides, it's hard to argue against it. Thankfully, it looks like more people are beginning to recognize that.

The controversy over critical race theory seems to have hit a fever pitch in the U.S.

Critical race theory (CRT) has been around for decades (the American Bar Association has a nice synopsis of it here). As with any academic theory, it's complex, but in a nutshell, CRT examines how the social construct of race impacts the laws and institutions of our society. But recently, as Americans reckon more fully with the legacy of racism in our national story, the entire idea of CRT has become a political football, scapegoat, diversion, and bogeyman, depending on who's discussing it.

There's a lot of confusion in this discourse about what CRT is, as well as where and how it's actually being taught, and some of that confusion has spilled into the U.S military.

Defense Secretary Austin was questioned at a House Armed Services Committee meeting today about CRT being taught in U.S. military academies. Representative Mike Waltz (FL-R), a former Green Beret, cited a letter he'd received from a superintendent at West Point about CRT materials being used in one class, as well as a workshop on "Understanding White Rage" that 100 cadets were taking. Representative Matt Gaetz asked Austin about it as well.

General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the highest-ranking military officer in the U.S., was offered a few minutes to respond at the end of the session. And his rational, reasonable, level-headed thoughts were a breath of fresh air.

Watch General Milley share his thoughts:

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The controversy over critical race theory seems to have hit a fever pitch in the U.S.

Critical race theory (CRT) has been around for decades (the American Bar Association has a nice synopsis of it here). As with any academic theory, it's complex, but in a nutshell, CRT examines how the social construct of race impacts the laws and institutions of our society. But recently, as Americans reckon more fully with the legacy of racism in our national story, the entire idea of CRT has become a political football, scapegoat, diversion, and bogeyman, depending on who's discussing it.

There's a lot of confusion in this discourse about what CRT is, as well as where and how it's actually being taught, and some of that confusion has spilled into the U.S military.

Defense Secretary Austin was questioned at a House Armed Services Committee meeting today about CRT being taught in U.S. military academies. Representative Mike Waltz (FL-R), a former Green Beret, cited a letter he'd received from a superintendent at West Point about CRT materials being used in one class, as well as a workshop on "Understanding White Rage" that 100 cadets were taking. Representative Matt Gaetz asked Austin about it as well.

General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the highest-ranking military officer in the U.S., was offered a few minutes to respond at the end of the session. And his rational, reasonable, level-headed thoughts were a breath of fresh air.

Watch General Milley share his thoughts:

Keep Reading Show less
True

Each year, an estimated 1.8 million people in the United States are affected by cancer — most commonly cancers of the breast, lung, prostate, and blood cancers such as leukemia. While not everyone overcomes the disease, thanks to science, more people are surviving — and for longer — than ever before in history.

We asked three people whose lives have been impacted by cancer to share their stories – how their lives were changed by the disease, and how they're using that experience to change the future of cancer treatments with the hope that ultimately, in the fight against cancer, science will win. Here's what they had to say.

Celine Ryan, 55, engineer database programmer and mother of five from Detroit, MI

Photo courtesy of Celine Ryan

In September 2013, Celine Ryan woke up from a colonoscopy to some traumatic news. Her gastroenterologist showed her a picture of the cancerous mass they found during the procedure.

Ryan and her husband, Patrick, had scheduled a colonoscopy after discovering some unusual bleeding, so the suspicion she could have cancer was already there. Neither of them, however, were quite prepared for the results to be positive -- or for the treatment to begin so soon. Just two days after learning the news, Ryan had surgery to remove the tumor, part of her bladder, and 17 cancerous lymph nodes. Chemotherapy and radiation soon followed.

Ryan's treatment was rigorous – but in December 2014, she got the devastating news that the cancer, once confined to her colon, had spread to her lungs. Her prognosis, they said, was likely terminal.

But rather than give up hope, Ryan sought support from online research, fellow cancer patients and survivors, and her medical team. When she brought up immunotherapy to her oncologist, he quickly agreed it was the best course of action. Ryan's cancer, like a majority of colon and pancreatic cancers, had been caused by a defect on the gene KRAS, which can result in a very aggressive cancer that is virtually "undruggable." According to the medical literature, the relatively smooth protein structure of the KRAS gene meant that designing inhibitors to bind to surface grooves and treat the cancer has been historically difficult. Through her support systems, Ryan discovered an experimental immunotherapy trial at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD., and called them immediately to see if she was eligible. After months of trying to determine whether she was a suitable candidate for the experimental treatment, Ryan was finally accepted.

The treatment, known as tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte therapy, or TIL, is a testament to how far modern science has evolved. With this therapy, doctors remove a tumor and harvest special immune cells that are found naturally in the tumor. Doctors then grow the cells in a lab over the next several weeks with a protein that promotes rapid TIL growth – and once the cells number into the billions, they are infused back into the patient's body to fight the cancer. On April 1, 2015, Ryan had her tumor removed at the NIH. Two months later, she went inpatient for four weeks to have the team "wash out" her immune system with chemotherapy and infuse the cells – all 148 billion of them – back into her body.

Six weeks after the infusion, Ryan and Patrick went back for a follow-up appointment – and the news they got was stunning: Not only had no new tumors developed, but the six existing tumors in her lungs had shrunk significantly. Less than a year after her cell infusion, in April 2016, the doctors told Ryan news that would have been impossible just a decade earlier: Thanks to the cell infusion, Ryan was now considered NED – no evaluable disease. Her body was cancer-free.

Ryan is still NED today and continuing annual follow-up appointments at the NIH, experiencing things she never dreamed she'd be able to live to see, such as her children's high school and college graduations. She's also donating her blood and cells to the NIH to help them research other potential cancer treatments. "It was an honor to do so," Ryan said of her experience. "I'm just thrilled, and I hope my experience can help a lot more people."

Patrice Lee, PhD, VP of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Exploratory Development at Pfizer

Photo courtesy of Patrice Lee

Patrice Lee got into scientific research in an unconventional way – through the late ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau.

Lee never met Cousteau but her dreams of working with him one day led her to pursue a career in science. Initially, Lee completed an undergraduate degree in marine biology; eventually, her interests changed and she decided to get a dual doctoral degree in physiology and toxicology at Duke University. She now works at Pfizer's R&D site in Boulder, CO (formerly Array BioPharma), leading a group of scientists who determine the safety and efficacy of new oncology drugs.

"Scientists focused on drug discovery and development in the pharmaceutical industry are deeply committed to inventing new therapies to meet unmet needs," Lee says, describing her field of work. "We're driven to achieve new medicines and vaccines as quickly as possible without sacrificing safety."

Among the drugs Lee has helped develop during her career, including cancer therapies, she says around a dozen are currently in development, while nine have received FDA approval — an incredible accomplishment as many scientists spend their careers without seeing their drug make it to market. Lee's team is particularly interested in therapies for brain metastases — something that Lee says is a largely unmet need in cancer research, and something her team is working on from a variety of angles. "Now that we've had rapid success with mRNA vaccine technology, we hope to explore what the future holds when applying this technology to cancers," Lee says.

But while evaluating potential cancer therapies is a professional passion of Lee's, it's also a mission that's deeply personal. "I'm also a breast cancer survivor," she says. "So I've been on the other side of things and have participated in a clinical trial."

However, seeing how melanoma therapies that she helped develop have affected other real-life cancer patients, she says, has been a highlight of her career. "We had one therapy that was approved for patients with BRAF-mutant metastatic melanoma," Lee recalls. "Our team in Boulder was graced by a visit from a patient that had benefited from these drugs that we developed. It was a very special moment for the entire team."

None of these therapies would be available, Lee says without rigorous science behind it: "Facts come from good science. Facts will drive the development of new drugs, and that's what will help patients."

Chiuying "Cynthia" Kuk (they/them) MS, 34, third-year medical student at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

Photo courtesy of Cynthia Kuk

Cynthia Kuk was just 10 years old when they had a conversation that would change their life forever.

"My mother, who worked as a translator for the government at the time, had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and after her chemotherapy treatments she would get really sick," Kuk, who uses they/them pronouns, recalls. "When I asked my dad why mom was puking so much, he said it was because of the medicine she was taking that would help her get better."

Kuk's response was immediate: "That's so stupid! Why would a medicine make you feel worse instead of better? When I'm older, I want to create medicine that won't make people sick like that."

Nine years later, Kuk traveled from their native Hong Kong to the United States to do exactly that. Kuk enrolled in a small, liberal arts college for their Bachelor's degree, and then four years later started a PhD program in cancer research. Although Kuk's mother was in remission from her cancer at the time, Kuk's goal was the same as it had been as a 10-year-old watching her suffer through chemotherapy: to design a better cancer treatment, and change the landscape of cancer research forever.

Since then, Kuk's mission has changed slightly.

"My mom's cancer relapsed in 2008, and she ended up passing away about five years after that," Kuk says. "After my mom died, I started having this sense of urgency. Cancer research is such that you work for twenty years, and at the end of it you might have a fancy medication that could help people, but I wanted to help people now." With their mother still at the forefront of their mind, Kuk decided to quit their PhD program and enter medical school.

Now, Kuk plans to pursue a career in emergency medicine – not only because they are drawn to the excitement of the emergency room, but because the ER is a place where the most marginalized people tend to seek care.

"I have a special interest in the LGBTQ+ population, as I identify as queer and nonbinary," says Kuk. "A lot of people in this community and other marginalized communities access care through the ER and also tend to avoid medical care since there is a history of mistreatment and judgement from healthcare workers. How you carry yourself as a doctor, your compassion, that can make a huge difference in someone's care."

In addition to making a difference in the lives of LGBTQ+ patients, Kuk wants to make a difference in the lives of patients with cancer as well, like their mother had.

"We've diagnosed patients in the Emergency Department with cancer before," Kuk says. "I can't make cancer good news but how you deliver bad news and the compassion you show could make a world of difference to that patient and their family."

During their training, Kuk advocates for patients by delivering compassionate and inclusive care, whether they happen to have cancer or not. In addition to emphasizing their patient's pronouns and chosen names, they ask for inclusive social and sexual histories as well as using gender neutral language. In doing this, they hope to make medicine as a whole more accessible for people who have been historically pushed aside.

"I'm just one person, and I can't force everyone to respect you, if you're marginalized," Kuk says. "But I do want to push for a culture where people appreciate others who are different from them."