It probably comes as no surprise that it’s been postponed until… whenever.

There’s another set of C-19’s victims: the many organizations such as March of Dimes and the Charcot-Marie-Tooth Association (the other group I do a walkathon for) that rely on these events for a good chunk of their budgets.


  1. El Cucui beat me to it: a lot of organizations allow you to design your own route (you did that last year, didn’t you?), so presumably they wouldn’t care whether your walk actually takes you out of your house. And I probably speak for all of us here who contribute that we don’t care either.

    I recently discovered something probably everybody else already knew about: There exist hundreds of virtual walking tours, which people use while on their treadmills to simulate movement through actual space:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bxbc6ynRK2I (this one is running rater than walking)

  2. Golden Gate Bridge run, which didn’t show up because I forgot to give the URL its own line:

  3. @B. A. That was great! I’ve only done 5 minutes of the Central Park walk and am already in awe of it.

    I grew up in New York State, 45 minutes from NYC, and several times I was left to wander around the city (1969-70) while waiting for my Mom to get out of Teachers College. I loved going to the Hayden Planetarium and Museum of Natural History but never went into the park (Central Park) behind them, with me thinking, I live beside forests and lakes, how interesting can a park be?

    ( To me, in my little town(s), a “park” was a grassy area fit for flying a kite. We did have a military aircraft on a pole in one. (heh-heh, “a pole in one” .. hA) )

  4. It seems to me that if people were willing to donate to a charity to recognize people walking, those same people might be willing to donate to the charity to recognize people not walking, or walking differently, due to the pandemic.

    It’s not like a walkathon involves an exchange of money for services. The charitable impulse should still be there, right?

  5. Powers, quite right. The event, whether it’s a run or a walkathon, is just a way to garner publicity in the media and turn the participants into shills for fundraising. If the cause is worthy, it remains worthy. That said, birth defects or cancer research is lower down my priority list now. I’ve been donating to people dealing with the “right now” problems: homeless shelters and food banks in my city and MSF internationally because their are a lot of developing countries that will be struggling to provide a medical response to this. I’m fortunate to have not had my income affected (yet) and have a safe place to shelter and to have enough food for my wife and me. But I remember living a more precarious life and those are the people who I’m prioritizing right now.

    B.A. Those walking tours are cool. I wish I had a treadmill

    In other news, joggers are selfish a-holes.

    It’s public, so you can see it without a FB account.

  6. As a kid (and even, I think, as a teenager), I found the idea of walking/running for charity to be very strange: “I care about curing cancer, but only if some guy runs 3 miles? If he gets tired, and can’t finish, I’ll just say ‘Never mind, I don’t care about curing cancer after all?'” Of course, Powers/SingaporeBill have the answer to that, but at the time I found it odd and confusing.

    I have the same thought as SingaporeBill, that right now long-term charitable giving is low on my priority list, when there are so many short-term issues. I do worry for the prospects of the long-term charities if everyone thinks that way, though.

  7. I’m fine with what SBill said, because “different people, different priorities” is a good thing: it assures that every worthwhile cause gets a piece of the pie.

    I support Charcot-Marie-Tooth research. It’s a very serious nerve disorder, and it’s hereditary and my son’s fiancé has it, so obviously I have a personal stake.

  8. Around here a lot of charities are also worried because so many people’s income has dropped, so even those who might regularly give, don’t necessarily have the money to donate right now. (Completely aside from the fact that there are a lot of places to donate that didn’t really exist a month ago.)

  9. Also, Christine, for many people, the tax deduction for charitable fonations has disappeared.

  10. BIll, I’m not quite sure which reason you’re saying for the tax deduction disappearing. Just because their income is below the threshold? Or because so many of the funds that are appearing aren’t giving receipts? (Either way, that sort of thing has a tendency to fly below my radar – we’ve had so many tax receipts expire on us. Next year is going to be our first year paying taxes as adults, because DH has paid just that much in tuition over the years. Although that may end up being a year down the road, I’m not sure. It depends on if the grant that is supposed to be used in part to give him a raise – to industry pay scales no less – comes through.)

  11. Christine, absolutely right. So many people have fallen into a difficult spot. Fortunately, Canadian government response has been reasonably good with emergency payments plan beyond normal unemployment and covering self-employed, etc. But even $2000/month doesn’t go far. For a lot of people in Toronto that won’t pay for housing, let alone other expenses. As I’ve said, I’m fortunate to still have work and no loss of income right now. But every time in the last four or five weeks when I’ve stocked up on items I needed without thinking about the cost (because I knew I had it to spend), I also thought about how, just a few years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to do so. In response, I’ve substantially increased my giving right now, with a focus on organizations that are addressing urgent needs right now. But when CIDU Bill and the March of Dimes come back, I’ll give them some dough, even if the tax receipt is useless to me, as a foreigner. Bill works hard on it and asks for nothing. It’s a good cause and since it means something to him, happy to do so.

  12. I completely agree. (I got in a huge facebook argument with someone over the “since the government agrees that we4 need $2k to survive, why OW and ODSP so much less?” screen cap that’s floating around. Some people honestly think that it’s intended as stimulus funds, not as survival minimums. I’m pretty sure they’re single though. They were also pretending to be an engineer, although not well, so I suspect that they’re quite young.) We’re in the boat of having reliable income (if more work than before), as are a lot of my friends. But I grew up in Toronto, and even here $2k/month wouldn’t go very far, and I can definitely imagine that there are a lot of people who are living tightly enough that they don’t have a lot of savings who are still going to have trouble getting by on $2k. And that’s limiting it to the people who are eligible, although I know that they’re working to try and expand eligibility, and hopefully will also start including more for people with income reduction, because I know one of my neighbours is close to just quitting, because she can’t make it on what she’s bringing in now, and can’t get CERB if she’s still working. (I suspect that very few people I know are on CERB though, because most of them are either still working, or self-employed.)

    As far as tax policy goes, people like me aren’t expected to exist – even while living on a studentship for a family of three we had enough money to donate (somewhat), and with well-off relatives we recently received enough as a pre-inheritance that we can make some substantial donations now, on a post-doc’s salary. I kind of like that we’ve been in such a weird case (tax receipts all going stale long before we could use them), because it means I feel more free to donate to something like an artists’ fund (or foreign charities), without worrying about making sure a get a receipt.

  13. Christine, there are two ways of reducing your declared income using deductions: the standard deduction and itemizing deductions. You choose which method serves you best.

    Let’s say the standard deduction is $10,000. You add up all your deductible items (mortgage, real estate taxes, charitable donations) and if it adds up to over $10,000, that’s what you can deduct. If it doesn’t, you deduct $10,000.

    If the standard deduction is increased, that makes it more likely you’ll choose that option instead of itemizing. And since the standard deduction was increased a few years ago, that means fewer people are itemizing and fewer people will see any tax benefit from giving money to a charity.

  14. Sorry Bill, I keep forgetting how complicated the American tax system is. But the point you were making wasn’t about a current disincentive to donate, just an ongoing one, right?

  15. Christine, is the American tax system unusually complicated for a modern industrialized country? (I’m aware that it’s insanely complicated, of course, but I always just assumed it was a normal amount of complexity for a modern industrialized country.)

  16. Well, “current” in the sense that the change is only a couple of years old and might get reversed. Without getting political, and we all know Bill doesn’t allow that here, the changes to the tax code were intended to benefit some states over other.

  17. I don’t know for sure that the system is that much more complicated. I know that filing American income tax is a lot more complicated than it is in other countries. I know that descriptions of how a lot of the credits work are confusing to me, but then again, a bunch of Canadian ones would be confusing if you weren’t used to them. (I know that I had friends who had reached adulthood without knowing about refundable tax credits – i.e. ones that you would get money back for if your income was low enough.) I do know, however, that no matter how straightforward it is, once you start introducing choices people get confused.

    I am also under the impression that the kind of changes to the tax code that we’re not supposed to talk about here are more blatant in the US, which would result in it being a more complicated code.

  18. Possibly relevant to charity issues: Some six months ago, my family faced a possible huge ongoing medical billing crisis. We’d been fairly generous to charities for some years (especially since both my wife and I retired and could count on the social security and retirment plan input), but because I wasnt sure if the long-term care insurance would in fact be covering what we needed it to cover. So I wrote up and photocopied a boilerplate letter to all of the charities we had been supporting (and a few that had been nagging us, even though in one case we I had sent them a small donation three or four years ago, and nothing after that).

    The form letter apologized and said that I hoped to resume supporting them in a few months, when I had a better grasp on our financial situation. I just counted: that letter went out to forty addresses.

    Foolishly, I didn’t keep track of how many did not then contact us again (though I don’t think it was more than six or seven), but most have contrinued to bombard our mailbox (including the rogue whose name is not quite The Alz –er- Oldtimers Association). But two charities not only refrained but contacted me to indicate they were doing so, and to sympathize.

    One was our local Friends of the Library associaton; the other a retirement home in which my mother spent her last years and, almost twenty years ago, died. I’d been sending money to the former every year, but I think the latter only once or twice, certainly rarely in recent years. But I think our financial situation is now clear enough to be able to resume charitable giving, and I know damn well which two are at the top of the list (and which one will never again get a cent from us, even if they just assume we were too Alzhisihly “forgetful” to respond.)

    Sorry for inappropriate dumping of core, if it is in fact inappropriate.

    Bill: If you are doing a charity run (or a charity stand in place) after all this year, I’ll be happy to contribute.

  19. Interesting. I had always assumed the complexity of the tax system just naturally came out of the fact that modern industrialized countries use the tax system to encourage and discourage different types of behavior, combined with the logrolling nature of politics. I wonder if there’s something about the American political system that encourages an overly complex tax code. Actually, now that I think about it. . .

    Hey! For stuff we’re not supposed to talk about, we’re sure talking about it a lot!

  20. Shrug, whether it’s a walk or a run, I’ll be doing it: I started in 1993, and I’m too old to start a new streak.

  21. WW, talking about the tax code isn’t politics because both the Republicans and Democratics are responsible for the mess. It’s bipartisan.

    The problem with fiddling the tax code to get good outcomes is that you wind up getting a lot of people putting a lot of effort in trying to game the system to make money without actually doing anything. Or making it reward the opposite behaviour. And you wind up with bad things getting tax breaks because they good for a particular district or state and the lobbyists had the influence to make it happen. Canadian taxes can be quite convoluted too, as are those in Japan. Singapore income taxes were quite simple. One page, did them myself in practically no time. Five minutes, maybe. I’m sure it’s more complicated if you have money. And the highest income tax rates in Singapore are low. But you get what you pay for. Government services aren’t particularly good or broad in coverage.

  22. In the US, companies that provide tax filing services have spent a lot of money lobbying against tax reform or simplification. I don’t think that’s allowed to happen most places.

  23. Don’t worry, complicated taxes and lobbying to prevent simplification happens in France and Belgium as well. I don’t bother much, being single; I just check what I filed the previous year and update the numbers.

  24. Winter, I think only once in my life I’ve done a marathon/walkathon/bikeathon/whateverthon where the amount raised depended on the distance I traveled. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I pledged money for somebody else’s -thon based on how long they lasted.

    I’m not sure whether this is statistically significant.

  25. CIDU Bill: You don’t need to explain it to me now, you need to explain it to me when I was a kid. 🙂

  26. Shrug, you mention or almost mention a certain Alzheimer charity. I donate to them once a year. But every month I get something from them asking if I’ve forgotten to donate to them this year, and could I please donate. I think this tactic is at best in poor taste and at worst absolutely evil. And the WORST of it is that i DID accidentally donate to them twice in the same month. I guess that’s the first sign.

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