Kentucky Fried Bureaucrats: ‘Take Them to Kansas City!’

Once more, life imitates art. And when politics is involved, the genre is usually comedy. This week’s aped art was legendary producer Samuel L. Bronkowitz’s cinematic masterpiece, “Kentucky Fried Movie.”

In one unsettling scene of human cruelty, two henchmen drag a captured CIA agent in front of the villain, Dr. Klahn. Defiant, the CIA agent manages to lift his head: “You don’t scare me, you [epithet].” Klahn studies his face before unleashing a sly smile and pronouncing the agent’s fate: “Take him to Detroit!”

Wailing “No! No, not Detroit! No! No, please! Anything but that!” the hysterical CIA agent is hauled off to my hometown.

Detroiters like me in the 1970s understood that joke at the time, as the rest of the country wasn’t particularly fond of vacationing in “America’s Murder Capital.” Yet such notoriety still chafed. We were proud of our Motor City then, and remain so today.

Thus, it was with no little empathy this Detroiter watched how Kansas City just had its “Kentucky Fried Movie” moment.

Per The Hill, members of the American Federation of Government Employees stood at a meeting and turned their backs to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. Why? Because the secretary, like Dr. Klahn, sought to torture these bureaucrats by relocating them . . . to Kansas City.

Specifically, “Perdue announced Thursday that two of the Department of Agriculture’s research agencies, the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, will be relocated to be closer to major farming regions, according to Politico.”

Why is this proposed exile on Main Street so galling to these civil servants? Unlike Detroit in the 1970s, Kansas City is not America’s murder capitol. The cost of living is certainly lower in Kansas City than in the tony environs of Washington, D.C. Indeed, one would think these federal employees’ work would actually benefit from a closer proximity to the farmers who pay their salaries and whose improved general welfare is the reason those USDA gigs exist.

Oh, and there’s the minor detail that the prospective relocation could save taxpayers upwards of $20 million per year.

It sounds like a smart decision, if one forgets we live in the era of Orange Man Bad: “Specifically, some ERS staff have expressed suspicions the relocation is an attempt to shrink the agency and weaken its ability to conduct research that does not align with the Trump administration’s policy agenda.”

On behalf of the bureaucrats (they unionized after the relocation announcement), the AFGE argued their new members weren’t given advance notice of the proposed move. They claim they only learned about it through the media, even though Perdue reportedly promised them advance notice.

Per news reports, agreeing with the union’s position are U.S. Representative Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) and Delegate Stacey Plaskett (D-V.I.), who contend the relocation process “lacked transparency”; and Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), co-sponsor of a bill to block the relocation, who said a USDA inspector general review “examining the viability of this relocation is not complete.”

Doubtless, at some point Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) will warn these bureaucrats “I’ve seen evidence” that once Trump exiles them to Kansas City, then he will cut a deal with Putin to exile them to a Siberian gulag. (Hey, Pathfinder Schiff has successfully peddled sillier conspiracy theories for the regressive Left’s consumption.)

As for the other side of the aisle, not surprisingly the four Republican U.S. Senators representing Kansas and Missouri support the relocation.

As the matter now stands, according to the AFGE, the affected bureaucrats “are expected to receive relocation letters Thursday and will be given 30 days to make a decision.”

Regardless of the relocation’s ultimate resolution, the decision to turn their backs to their purported boss further evinces to the citizenry the truth of Sir Winston Churchill’s prescient quip: “After a time, civil servants tend to become no longer servants and no longer civil.”

Photo Credit: Mark Makela/Getty Images

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About Thaddeus G. McCotter

An American Greatness contributor, the Hon. Thaddeus G. McCotter (M.C., Ret.) represented Michigan’s 11th Congressional district from 2003 to 2012 and served as Chair of the Republican House Policy Committee. Not a lobbyist, he is a frequent public speaker and moderator for public policy seminars, and a Monday co-host of the "John Batchelor Show" among sundry media appearances.