How to End the Recession: Agricultural Subsidies for Facebook FarmVille Farmers!

Dumenco's Trendrr Chart of the Week

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Looking at this week's Trendrr chart -- which tracks active users of a bunch of social-media diversions -- I came to an inescapable conclusion: The Facebook Generation is ready, able and eager to work. How else to explain that 81,125,786 users (as of this writing) are tilling the fields of their virtual Facebook farms on at least a monthly basis? That drive, that work ethic, is why FarmVille is the fastest growing (if not the fastest growing) game in history -- though I hesitate to call it merely a "game." Really, it's a way of life.

By the way, nearly 30 million FarmVille farmers show up every day. In fact, so many hard-working farmers are tending their fields that once-ubiquitous Mafia Wars -- also made by virtual-games giant Zynga -- is on the decline. (If you're drinking coffee, put it down, because I don't want you spitting it all over your keyboard because of this: SharesPost says Zynga is worth $3 billion.)

FarmVille
FarmVille
Thinking about FarmVille, I suddenly saw the light at the end of the recessionary tunnel: Forget about additional government bailouts, jobs bills, etc. There is one money-pit government stimulus plan that has always had bipartisan support: agricultural subsidies. The U.S. government, in a convoluted, logic-defying system that absolutely nobody understands anymore, pays roughly $16 billion per year to farmers to grow certain stuff and to not grow other stuff -- to farm and to not farm. (Has something to do with managing the supply of agricultural commodities and whatnot. And sucking up to the Big Farm lobby.) We have to assume, with FarmVille's astonishing numbers, that virtual farming is huge in every state, so virtual farmers in both liberal and conservative districts across the land would benefit from a virtual agricultural subsidy program. (Stick that in your Causes!) Every senator and congressman should be able to get behind this.

Now imagine if we devoted a portion of FarmVille subsidies to paying FarmVille farmers to not farm. Yes, virtual productivity rates would drop, but real-world -- what's left of the real world, that is -- productivity would rise. At least I think? I hope?

Or maybe not. Stands to reason, for instance, that Texas politicians would push for HoldEm subsidies... which would likely cancel things out productivity-wise. So, um, never mind.

Anyway, back to "work."

Nice job on that artichoke crop, by the way.

(Looking for the latest "Media Guy" column? It's right here.)

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Dumenco's Trendrr Chart of the Week is produced in collaboration with Wiredset, the New York digital agency behind Trendrr, a social- and digital-media tracking service. More background here. A basic Trendrr account is free; Trendrr Pro, which offers more robust tracking and reporting tools, comes in various paid flavors; details here).

Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" media columnist for Advertising Age. You can follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.

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