By Senator Jennifer Fielder, R – Montana State Senate District 7
What do you suppose would happen if each of us did more instead of expecting someone else to do all the good things that need to be done? What if we each did all we can do to help ourselves and help others? Charity would become contagious, popular, and ironically, maybe even less necessary.
To those of you who already give instead of take, encourage instead of criticize, or even smile instead of scowl, thank you! These are shining examples of the kinds of Faith, Hope, and Charity we need more of year round. Charity isn’t just about money. It’s a form of love through selfless giving of time, kindness, or resources.
As Montanas legislature convenes for the 2015 session, an endless line of people will want public funds (i.e. your money) for a whole range of wonderful special interests. Some requests will be for essential services which I will support. Some requests will come from institutions that need to think about doing more to help themselves. And some requests will come from charities that, although I might support personally, I will not vote in favor of requiring you the taxpayer to fund by force of law. It’s just fundamentally wrong to take one person’s property and give it to someone else. When it comes to charity, who you give to, when, and why, should be up to you. Just remember, God is watching.
Like many folks, I have a big heart for charity too. There are exceptions of course, but in general charity works best when given willingly from the heart, and it usually fails when attempted by force (law/taxation). When administered by dedicated volunteers who work hard to raise scarce funds for legitimate purposes, resources tend to be more carefully directed to intended recipients. Think Mother Theresa. When administered by organizations who come by large amounts of other people’s money easily, "charity" becomes more susceptible to waste, abuse, unnecessary
expenditures, and even corruption. The billions of dollars of fraud in the government funded health system care comes to mind.
Today I’d like to update you on some charitable giving I have been involved with. While campaigning for State Senate in 2012, I outlined many goals which you can find at www.jenniferfielder.us. I continue to work hard on those goals every day. But when it came to making promises, I was careful to make only two promises that I knew were entirely within my power to keep:
First, I promised to honor my oath of office (found in Article 3, section 3 of the Montana Constitution). That oath, required of all public officers in Montana, states that we will support, protect, and defend the U.S. and
Montana Constitutions and discharge the duties of our office with fidelity. Its not just adhering to the Constitution that is important, although this is fundamental to civil order, freedom, and prosperity. The commitment to fidelity, or trustworthiness, of public officers is equally vital. I remain committed to honoring the whole oath.
Second, I promised to donate half of my legislative take-home pay to charitable causes. I made this pledge because I believe strongly in voluntary charity, and I also wanted you to know that I was entering politics to give, not to take. That is, to give of myself willingly, not to require you to give of yourself unwillingly.
In keeping my promise of charitable giving, so far I have donated $3,774.90 from my 2013-14 earnings. That amount exceeds half the net salary I received during my first two years of office. Recipients have included: Three local churches; Thompson River Animal Care Shelter (TRACS); Cancer Care Network of Sanders County; Tri-State Veterans Stand Down; Thompson Falls Senior Class alcohol free graduation parties; Linda Laniers Patriotic Picnic and Veterans Tribute; Rex Theater Christmas on Main Street Music Show; Daughters of American Revolution College Scholarship Fund; Noxon Food Bank Community Garden; American Lands Council; DAV Disabled Veterans Transport Vehicle; plus a few miscellaneous donations to service clubs and individuals in Sanders and Mineral Counties.
The wonderful volunteers who do so many good works in our communities are the real key to charitable programs and countless other good deeds. They touch lives and make donated funds, however modest, stretch.
If you know of a donation or charitable organization I should consider for the upcoming year, please leave me a note at www.jenniferfielder.us <www.jenniferfieldder.us>. I hope you will give all you can to help them too so we can make voluntary charity popular!
As I enter the second half of my four-year term in the Montana State Senate, I am grateful to be able to continue to serve you, honor my oath, and keep my promise of contributing half my pay to good causes.May Freedom Ring and may your New Year be filled with the blessings of true Faith, Hope, and Charity all year long!
Senator Jennifer Fielder
Montana State Senate – District 7