FM Frequency: Reducing Expenses In 2010? Thanks Uncle Sam!

By Jeff Crane, P.E., LEED® AP
Published in the October 2009 issue of Today’s Facility Manager

If you haven’t noticed the friendly facility manager (fm) around the office lately, don’t be surprised. October often drives fms to self-imposed exile in hidden conference rooms, home offices, and even the local pub. Between fantasy football trades and stress induced maniacal Facebook postings, a typical fm spends countless hours each fall cycling between laser like concentration, panic attacks, and hopelessness as he works to avoid killing the facilities budget despite a thousand cuts. With weary eyes vigorously scouring every little number crawling his legal size spreadsheets, it’s like watching a hapless coke junkie discovering tiny white dots on a broken mirror.

That’s right, folks, it’s budget time!

But have no fear. FM Frequency reports to you this month from one of many secluded, fortified, budget busting bunkers with a brilliant idea guaranteed to bank from 15¢ to 50¢ per square foot in every facility in the United States!

Are you intrigued or excited? Want to hear more?

As one member of a fairly large and under appreciated voting bloc, I’m actually a little disappointed one of the many brilliant minds in the facility management (FM) community (especially TFM readers) didn’t consider this sooner. We probably could have pressured each presidential candidate to endorse the idea. Imagine the media coverage of “Ted the Facility Manager” and “Joe the Plumber” squaring off in a nationally televised debate about punishing the office moron who shoves coffee stirring sticks down the pantry sink or the disgruntled staffer who floods urinals with hand towels.

(And while it may be a little more challenging to demand political favors in an off election year, we can cite precedent of the feds doling out billions to bankers, auto unions, first time home buyers, clunker drivers, solar pumpers, and windmill makers.) So are you ready for a bold idea whose time has finally come? Are you ready for real change?

We want government property insurance and we want it now! For too long, fms have been forced to pay ludicrous premiums to greedy, private insurance companies with their corrupt adjusters, underwriters, and multi-million dollar executives. For too long, air conditioning mechanics, electricians, plumbers, and specialists such as elevator technicians and fire panel programmers have robbed our maintenance budgets with “trip charges,” “labor costs,” and “parts costs.”

Many fms can’t purchase property insurance at all because it is simply unaffordable, especially if their facility has experienced a so-called “pre-existing condition” such as a fire, lightning strike, or tornado. It’s simply not fair that, in America, fms can’t purchase property insurance after experiencing one of these traumatic events—at a time when they need it the most.

It’s also not reasonable when facilities in Florida, Georgia, and other low lying coastal states are paying predatory property insurance rates simply because of a perceived, alleged “risk” that they’re prone to flooding. If the federal government had simply destroyed the moon instead of the rain forest that is now the Nevada desert with nuclear testing, we could have eliminated tides and global flooding once and for all, and the Grand Canyon would still be a small creek.

And if you think flooding is bad, just try finding affordable property insurance for a facility in a “size-metric” zone! Anyone with half a brain would know that when there has already been a major earthquake in an area, the “electronic plates” in the Earth’s crust are satisfied and it’s not going to happen again. Duh!

And doesn’t everyone know about the UN’s international laws prohibiting lightning from striking the same place twice?

Look, it’s very simple. If we’ve learned anything over the past 10 months, it’s that the federal government can provide unlimited, high quality services to everyone for free. That’s right, property insurance should be free and unlimited to cover all facilities maintenance needs. We may be willing to suffer a $10 or $15 co-pay for discretionary repairs but not more. And it might take a while, but we won’t be satisfied until we have a single payer system.

Just think, with public property insurance, we can eliminate preventive maintenance and reduce our budgets even more. Why bother maintaining facilities when we can have insurance that will pay for all repairs? “Run to Failure” should be our new motto. And just think, if lousy maintenance practices cause someone to get injured, Uncle Sam will be right there to protect us. Everyone knows you can’t sue the government. Awesome!

If we simply hire the right lobbyists, make a few campaign contributions, and get the legislation crafted properly, this will be a slam dunk. If we have any resistance, we can simply blame the evil oil companies who are incidentally causing 98% of our property insurance claims anyway thanks to their incessant drilling, destabilization of the Earth’s crust, and destruction of our fragile atmosphere.

We know from award winning scientists like Al Gore that fossil fuels and the SUV have recently spawned 99% of a new type of violent storm called hurricanes. You know, it’s amazing to think that catastrophic events like these, tornadoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis never even happened before about 1980. Hmmm…isn’t that also the year Ronald Reagan took office? Coincidence?

Let me be clear folks. If you are not with us in demanding public property insurance, you must be against us. In fact, you might even be one of those dreadful “septics” or “critical tinkerers” who believe 83% of all statistics are fabricated and that the moon landing wasn’t filmed in a Hollywood studio.

In the unlikely event that you require additional encouragement, we have two words that will instantly provoke deep guilt and compel you to join our worthy cause: global warming. That’s right. A scientific study by “Major University” has concluded that public property insurance will stop global warming in less than six years.

Any questions?

Crane is a mechanical engineer and regional property manager with Childress Klein Properties, a leading real estate developer and propertymanagement services provider in the Southeast.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this column do not reflect the opinions of the management or advertisers in the magazine.