Best Business Commentary

Higher grain prices are pushing up the cost of food worldwide, says Robert Samuelson in The Washington Post, and the “run-up doesn’t seem to be temporary.” “Like everything else during the holidays, deciding whom to tip and how much to give can be a stres

Eating biofuel subsidies

Higher grain prices are pushing up the cost of food worldwide, says Robert Samuelson in The Washington Post, and the “run-up doesn’t seem to be temporary.” In rich countries, more expensive food might actually encourage “better eating habits,” but poor countries face “truly grave consequences” like increased hunger and malnutrition. Increased Asian demand for better food has fed the price inflation, but it’s the “reckless,” U.S.-subsidized “extra demand for grains to make biofuels” that have caused prices to spike. And for what? Farmers and ethanol refiners gain, but with biofuel more “politically fashionable” than beneficial, “who else wins is unclear.”

Holiday tipping tips

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“Like everything else during the holidays, deciding whom to tip and how much to give can be a stressful experience,” says AnnaMaria Andriotis in SmartMoney. There’s no set formula, but there are “some general rules.” First, make a list: the service providers who work in your home or care for your family come first, then those who “help you look and feel good,” like hairstylists. Next, make a spreadsheet to help you “distribute your tips without going broke.” The Emily Post Institute has a range of common tip amounts. In some cases, a holiday gratuity may not be necessary. But remember, “you’re not only showing your appreciation,” you’re also “guaranteeing good service for the coming year.”

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