10 years ago if you went to a coffee shop and ordered a latte or if you went to a local bar and ordered a drink, how much did you tip? Most people would probably say $1. It's now 2014 so once again I pose the same question... how much do you tip for a latte or a drink? Again, most people would still answer $1. That means for most baristas and cocktail waitresses (and others that receive dollar tips :-)) in Billings, a huge chunk of their income... tips, hasn't risen with the cost of living for a decade or more. Hardly seems fair.

I came up with a solution... tipping dollars. This would have to be done by the federal reserve. Each year the value of a tipping dollar would have to increase with the cost of living index. For instance, if the government had started issuing "tipping dollars" in 2003 by 2013 they would have been worth $1.27 because the annual inflation rate was 2.41%. That means that during that 10 year span baristas and cocktail waitresses, assuming tips are half their income, have seen their real buying power decrease by about 13.5%.

Of course I'm not holding my breath that the federal reserve will ever issue "tipping dollars" so the next time you get coffee, order a drink or patronize a house of ill repute where the DJ's spin the theme from "Shaft" dig into your pocket and give them an extra quarter.

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