We're retired and my husband is a news junkie, so the television is on all day. I wander through once an hour or so to check on his progress (he's always building something) and to keep my legs from going numb from sitting in one place. What is advertised is for the most part depressing.

If one judges by daytime TV, Americans are constipated, crippled cretins, likely to buy and sell gold by mail, be so far in debt to the IRS that we'd trust anyone to get us out, and blithely unaware that getting a power chair or diabetic supplies "at no cost to you" doesn't mean that it doesn't cost somebody somewhere.

We're encouraged to repudiate all those bills we ran up on credit cards-who needs to really pay what he owes? We have structured settlements and we need cash now, so why not give someone a very large chunk of it so we can go on vacation next month? Who needs to plan for tomorrow? And of course, if you've ever hurt yourself anyhow, anytime, somebody has to be responsible, and if you call now, they'll be made to pay. You might even get some of the settlement once the lawyers have taken the lion's share.

Retired doesn't mean stupid, but these advertisers must be getting hits from somewhere or their ads wouldn't be on sixty times a day. We hear of seniors who are taken advantage of, and certainly age can interfere with logic in some cases. I knew a once-shrewd businessman with early Alzheimers who sold his house for a few thousand dollars when an unscrupulous buyer offered cash. Still, I suspect that most of the madness of "get something for nothing" is attributable to either fear or greed, and advertisers play on both. Daytime TV ads are not for the faint of stomach, but the ancient caution should be applied there as everywhere else: "Let the buyer beware." Sam, J.G., and others of their ilk are not philanthropists. But there's a sucker born every minute, and they seem to think that most of them are sitting at home, watching game shows and CNN.

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