And a few days before that, when certain conservative politicians and pundits (who apparently hate math as much as they hate President Obama . . .) leveled the charge that the president's trip to Asia was costing $200 million a day, the debunking headlines practically wrote themselves, like this from the Times' Caucus blog: "India on $200 million a day? Not!"
I wondered how common this was, so I put my research assistant, Mr. Google, on the case and was quickly presented with a list of other examples. Like:
- A few years back, the Times had a series called "High & Low" (retitled in 2009, in a slight nod to the economic times,"Save or Splurge"). Each entry featured pairs of articles about visiting a particular place on two different budgets: "____ on $250 a Day" and "____ on $1,000 a Day."
- From a Space Daily article on the Mars Rover: "Mars on One Million Dollars a Day."
I was also curious, in light of Monday's post about the evolution of the dollar amount in the guidebook titles, to see what amounts people most often plugged into the "on $___ a day" construction. I checked both Google overall and Google News specifically (going back to 1980). Here's a graphic representation of what I found, with the X axis listing the various dollar amounts:
Some notes for the pedants/sticklers/genuinely-curious:
(1) Most of the amounts I looked at were actual amounts used in Frommer's book titles. I added in some other nice, round numbers (e.g. $100, $500) that seemed like logical ones for people to plug into the dollars-a-day construction. One thing that's interesting about this, for example, is that there are considerably more articles that discuss something on $100 a day (14 results) than $95 a day (4), even though the latter was an actual Frommer's guidebook, the last one to have an amount listed in the title, in 2007.
(2) I did several variations of each search, using different phrasing (e.g. 5 dollars, five dollars, $5) and I searched for exact phrases, so that it was always "____ on $_____ a day."
(3) Even so, the link between many of these results and Frommer's guidebook titles is, of course, only coincidental and in passing, having nothing to do with travel, e.g. "even today, many impoverished Martians live on $5 a day."
(4) Still, most of the news results, at least, are indeed clearly intended as a play on Europe on $5 a Day.
(5) Seriously, if you're still reading this, you deserve a prize. Tell you what: let me know you made it this far and I'll write you a haiku.