So what should you do?
Stop tipping. It's easier said than done. You're going to feel bad about it. Waiters are going to HATE you. Your fellow diners, mistaking your proletarian stand for stinginess, may elect not to make the sex with you. All horrible outcomes, I agree, but until the American dining public (and our tourists, even though we all know tourists don't tip) stops subsidizing restaurant payrolls, you'll get screwed, your waiter'll gets screwed, and $2.13/hour will stand.
But if the customer-fueled tip-train ground to a halt, tippable restaurant employees -- a group that represents 60% of the entire country's tipped workforce -- would go from earning enough, to barely making ends meet. Many would exit the industry for other jobs; those who couldn't would suffer at the poverty line.
Overnight, the industry would lose its workforce. Restaurants & bars would close, leaving diners to the miserable fate of drinking at home, and actually cooking for themselves. The system would break, which is a genuinely catastrophic outcome. But if everyone -- customers, servers, business owners, The Government™ -- finally agreed that American tipping culture was flawed, unfair, and broken, we'd be one important step closer to fixing it.
The remedies are probably best saved for a follow-up story, but the prevailing wisdom (taken from the entire Western world, where this isn't an issue) says to make restaurants responsible for paying servers an agreed-upon wage, the money for which would come from increased food & drink prices. The cost is still passed on to customers, but it relieves them of the life-and-death control they have over their waiters' livelihoods.
Whether you start leaving 0% tips is up to you. I can't make you do it, and I may or may not do it myself. But that's the point -- an employee's take-home pay shouldn't be up to you, or me, or anyone other than his/her employer. When we tip, we intend to do right by the people handling our food, but we're actually just entrenching a system that takes advantage of them. We're screwing everything up.
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Dave Infante is a senior writer for Thrillist Food & Drink, and doesn't have the balls to zero-out a tip, even though he believes this argument on paper. He hopes you've got more willpower, or we're all screwed. Follow @dinfontay on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat.