How to Survive Without Money Using Scott Walker's "Tools"

25 July 2011
Dear friends of dissent,

If you've been paying attention, you've probably noticed Wisconsin governor Scott Walker often mentions the "tools" he's given us to "tighten our belts" and wondered what this meant, on account of he hasn't actually done anything that benefits anyone in this state except the very richest.  Turns out, interestingly, that these "tools" are "helpful cuts to your pay and benefits" and the "tighten your belt" part really does mean "get skinnier," because you're starving now. Good thing for us, though, a little starving never hurt anyone, unless you get to the part where you "starve to death," which you should try to avoid at all costs. So here are some handy tips on how to get the most out of the tools Scott Walker was generous enough to provide you, but without actually dying:

Buying food
  1. Pack a brown bag, plebe! Who do you think you are, eating in restaurants? Paul Ryan? Know your place.
  2. Save money on food by not getting hungry.
  3. If you must eat (since you leftists think you're entitled to everything!), save money by only eating food that is offered to you free of charge at parties, potlucks, and homeless shelters.
  4. Consider going on a grocery strike (since you leftists love striking so much!) and just don't buy a single item of food until your cupboards are completely bare (or did you also think you were "entitled" to a stocked pantry?)
  5.  Clean out your fridge and pantry to surprise yourself with things you forgot you had and make a feast. What? After throwing out all the things that expired on or before 2005 you're left with only a box of baking soda, vinegar and some almost-stale tortillas? Wasteful ingrates like you don't deserve to eat.  Make a volcano burrito. It might be good.
  6. Raid the neighbor's vegetable garden in the dark of night (since you leftists love organic produce so much). The next day, be sure to go on and on about "all those damned raccoons" you've been seeing in her yard.
  7. Swallow your pride. It's more filling than you'd think. 
Buying other stuff
  1. Only buy anything if it's on clearance AND you have a coupon. Start referring to your coupon folder as your "tool box."  
  2. Reduce! Measure shampoo into a thimble before washing your hair. Limit showers to 2 minutes or less. Only flush the toilet when company is coming over.
  3. Reuse!  Use old bills you can't pay as scratch paper for writing lists of all the things your kids aren't going to be able to do this summer because you're so broke.
  4. Recycle! Sew last year's too-small winter coats together to make trendy ponchos for the kids to wear this year!
  5. Who needs new clothes when you already have so much right here? Kids growing too fast? Just tell them capris and half-shirts are back in style. Shoes have too many holes in them? There's a name for that - sandals! Wardrobe needs a facelift? Give everything a whole new look by embroidering "Recall Walker" on it.
  6. Redefine "essentials." Do you really "need" things like deodorant, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?
  7.  Take "window shopping" to the next level by just leaving your full cart of stuff at the store. Pretend you bought it, but later, when you go to wash the dishes and there's still no detergent, say "Boy, that went fast!" (repeat)
  8. Buy a really fancy copier and just make your own money. The fancy copier just paid for itself! And now you're rich! You can buy anything! [Note: If it doesn't work out, this tip has the bonus advantage of providing potential free room and board in the form of jail time!]

Paying Bills
Unfortunately, even if you follow all of the advice above, your tools don't work on bills, which continue to go up, even though your pay has gone way down.  Luckily, though, there are a couple of options for you:
    1. Cancel everything and move into a cardboard box. Problem solved!
    2. Move to a state with more jobs and fewer tools.
    3. Recall Walker, or persuade him to resign, and elect politicians who are invested in Wisconsin families rather than their corporate funders.
I hope you find this invaluable advice useful and wish you the best surviving Scott Walker.  Let me know how it goes.

Yours in poverty and dissent,

Heather DuBois Bourenane

"I'm 96 years old, and I'm not a Republican anymore. Thank you."

A Wisconsin grandmother speaks out 
against Scott Walker and the Wisconsin GOP 
and thanks the protesters for fighting for her rights.
The following letter was shared with me by my friend, Melissa Luther, who has been active in the Wisconsin protests since Governor Scott Walker first announced his intentions to "balance" our budget on the backs of the poor, the elderly and our children, while taking away workers' rights and granting exorbitant tax cuts to corporations. It is a powerful reminder that we are not alone, and our work is not in vain.  It is a thank you to all who have stood up to challenge these attacks on Wisconsin families. And it is a plea to those who think our struggle is all about partisan politics:  listen to what Katherine has to say.  Listen to her daughter. And ask yourself, "Who is on my side? Who is standing up for me and my family?" 
Melissa received this email from a woman named Shelly on Friday, July 23, 2011. Shelly had sent the letter to one of the phone bank organizers and asked that it be forwarded to every volunteer for the recall campaigns, and we're sharing it here so that everyone can hear this touching story of unexpected solidarity and thanks  to every person who is fighting against the blindly partisan power-grab of the GOP whether it be through volunteering, sharing information, protesting, organizing to support the  recall elections, helping the elderly procure voter id cards now that the poll tax has been enacted, etc.  Thanks to Melissa for sharing this with me, and especially to Shelly and Katherine for sharing their stories. Might want to grab a Kleenex.


My name is Shelly. My mother, Katherine, asked me to send this e-mail to you. She is 96 years old and unable to use a computer. I want to be clear that these are HER words, I am only her scribe.

Hello, my name is Katherine. I was born in West Virginia however I have lived in Wisconsin since 1973. That's when my husband Edward retired from serving in the Air Force. Edward passed away 6 years ago and let me tell you! It's not been easy surviving without him but I keep going everyday because I have a family that still needs me. We have 3 beautiful daughters and many grandkids. Edward and I have been Republicans all our lives but I knew him well enough to know that he'd roll over in his grave if he knew what Republicans are these days. 

I must say, I'm quite disappointed. I have been listening to the news and have been reading in the paper all the things that they are trying to do and I just don't understand it. They are trying to take away my insurance. They want to take my daughters rights away too. She's a teacher and a damn good one. It all just makes me angry. Really angry. Edward proudly served this country and risked his life and this is how they repay us? This is how they repay our family? Why are they doing this? Is it for money? Is it for power? I've seen a lot of things but I always thought we were safe here because of our government. Not that we'd need protection from them. Not in America. 

But now I'm hearing about all of the people who are out there working against them and all I know is that they're doing what's right. That's the reason for this letter. I am 96 and I can barely walk anymore. I have lost vision and hearing over the years as well. I would like to help, but I just can't. So what I want is to say thank you. To the people protesting. To the people calling my house. To the young man who knocked on my door to remind me about the election that I voted in last week. You are fighting for me because I can't fight for myself and everyday I pray that God blesses you and keeps you safe and healthy. Keep up the good work and don't stop until they can't do anything more to our state that will hurt us good citizens. 

I'm not a Republican anymore and won't be again until they get their act together. I hope that someday, in my lifetime, I see our government work in peace again.

God bless you,

And from me. My name is Shelly and I also want to thank each and every one of you. I teach 4th grade and am quite repulsed by the attack on my profession. I am also disgusted with our government on a federal level. The Republican Party has lost sight of true American values. Thank you for rising up against their attack. Thank you for volunteering your time and money into these recall efforts. Thank you for looking into the eyes of the ones who will be hurt by their despicable policies and defending them and reminding them that there is hope. You are all heroes and I'm proud to fight with you.

In solidarity,


How Scott Walker Ruined My Summer Vacation

20 July 2011

It's the end of July. It's 100 degrees. And we aren't just "still mad."  We're more mad. We're proving it at the ballot box. And we didn't go away.

To be quite honest, I, personally, did go away, for a short while, as you no doubt noticed when I didn't write as usual. I've been calling it a "vacation" on account of I didn't work much while I was gone, but it didn't really count as a vacation since (1) I spent most of my time trying as hard as I could not to spend any money (thanks, in large part, to you), and (2) despite my best efforts to remain gloriously unplugged, news of your misadventures and assaults on the working class still reached me, even in another state.
Portrait of my "vacation:" watching a (free) street Elvis and reminding Michigan to Stand with Wisconsin
Perhaps you're wondering why I'm blaming you for my $0 budget "vacation." I'm on reduced hours over the summer at my cushy term-to-term state job, and (thanks in large part to your cuts to all things worth funding), my position is going from 50% to 33% this fall, which doesn't make for a very rosy financial situation, despite the fact that my husband works full time. And taking on another job means finding full-time child care, which means even less take-home pay than I get now. So my "vacation" consisted of stress, worry, and embarrassing coupon-hunting penny-pinching every step of the way.

How many pennies did YOU save while I was gone? How many brown bags, for instance, did you let go to waste while you hobnobbed with financiers and lobbyists? Did you enjoy a couple of $350 bottles of wine over these dinners like your buddy Paul Ryan did? How much per person did you (or was it the taxpayers?) pay for the party your wife threw at the governor's mansion? I would really like to know what the brown bags you served at that party contained, but I only saw the footage from the marvelous protest flotilla, and couldn't make out any details. 

Anyway, it's been so long since I wrote to you that I'm struggling to prioritize my seemingly infinite list of items of dissent with your administration and its unprecedented, unconscionable, power grab. To make it easier for you to keep my specific comments in mind, let me bullet these for you, not necessarily in order of importance:

  • Stop stacking the deck against democracy by gerrymandering and disenfranchising Wisconsin voters. The absurd, unwarranted, transparently partisan redistricting of Wisconsin is a shameful disgrace to our state's democratic tradition and a staggering marvel of political absurdity. Your support for this is proof that you do not now, and never did, support a government by, for or of, the people. As far as I can tell, the only thing you truly support is increasing the coffers of support for your own political agenda, which rarely (if ever) corresponds to the interests of this state, as the new map clearly shows.
  • Stop with the "jobs" and "tools" talk. You have not created jobs; we have lost real existing jobs - and countless potential ones - under your administration and there is no evidence that your policies will create jobs that benefit this state. Unemployment is up in Wisconsin as it declines across the rest of the nation.  So stop lying about that and start creating jobs - and not the phony "new" McJobs you "create" by eliminating decent existing ones. And stop lying about how your budget cuts are "tools" that help local communities and won't lead to tax increases. 
  • Stop wasting our money. And I'm not just talking about the money you waste being out of state all the time, or your insulting attempts at PR-stops around the state (which might better be called Protest Tours anyway), trying to take credit for local or existing projects.  You are wasting taxpayer money on your foolish political agenda and have the nerve to claim to be doing this in the name of "jobs".  The best example of this is the fiscal impact of your stubborn rejection of federal rail money, which would have created countless jobs, in addition to its money-saving environmental impacts.  By rejecting this money, you forced the state to borrow and we end up spending more on the Milwaukee-Chicago line than it would have cost to build the Milwaukee-Madison rail that the people have demanded. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has a good article on how this math works. You should check it out. So we increase the debt, we lose the jobs, we don't have the rail service, and we send our dollars and our resources to Illinois instead of creating more jobs between Madison and Milwaukee. Free enterprise?  I don't think so.
  • Resign. To put this in terms you can understand, given the "self-serving narrative" that is your constant reference to yourself as "CEO of Wisconsin," let me make it simple: you have proven that you do not know how business, or governments work. You have failed as governor (in your terms: "CEO") and you are going to be recalled ("fired").
I have been watching this summer as people continue to follow you wherever you go, making clear to you and the rest of the world that we're still here, we're still fighting, and we're getting more mad every day.  This is not about collective bargaining, even if that's what shook people awake this winter.  This is about taking democracy back, stopping the sale of our state to corporate interests, and protecting our children's education and the programs that serve our most vulnerable. It's about transparency in government, exposing and calling out the lies of corrupt and duplicitous politicians (see mirror for more info). It's about the recalls, especially yours.

"The story's behind you, sir. Turn around, sir!"

Of all your lies, the one I hate the most is the one you repeated to a local reporter after this aptly protested event - the ironically audacious claim that "a handful of people should not be able to dictate what people do in this state." If you would confront your constituents honestly, and acknowledge the fact that well over half the people of this state oppose you, we wouldn't have to follow you all over the place, shouting. As long as you continue to ignore us, continue to disrespect us, and continue to lie about our numbers, our aims and our needs, we will only grow more determined to see you recalled. And you will be recalled. 

So resign. Because whether or not I can afford to take another vacation next summer, I don't want to waste a moment of it thinking of you.

Until you're out of sight, out of mind, out of office, and for good,

Heather DuBois Bourenane
Wisconsin taxpayer and recall enthusiast