I have always watched and listened to news programs in the early evening. Those programs are even more depressing in recent years. It's not just that the news doesn't get better, but now the commercials are even worse.
Whatever health problem I may have, there is a drug company telling me in glowing terms how much better I will feel if I take product A, B or C. And while the visual is of old folks dancing, playing golf or sleeping blissfully, the background voice tells of the dreadful things that might happen if I take this stuff.
I should call my doctor if my face swells up, or if I begin to go blind or deaf, and especially if I'm having a potentially fatal asthma attack. Right. I'll do that. However, if I would love to go rock climbing and the only thing standing in my way is my lack of the miracle product being sold, I should call my doctor and ask if this wonderful stuff is right for me.
Silly me. I thought my doctor would tell me if there was a wonder-cure for my ailments. But on TV they tell me that I should have a chat with him about a simple blood test to tell us both if my liver can stand this stuff.
In the next commercial break, a series of lawyers tells me that I might be eligible for compensation if I took a drug that turned out to be devastating. If I call the law firm of McLame and Halt, where operators are standing by, they'll tell me if I'm eligible to join a class-action suit. And there's another firm who will help me with DUI charges or personal injuries. Whose injuries? Call toll-free and find out.
And finally there are the lawyers and accountants who will help me fight the IRS, file for bankruptcy, short sell my home or probably avoid debtor's prison. Why won't they just sell me some soap or potato chips? The news is already pretty depressing. Why must I be bombarded by all these pharmaceutical companies and law firms?
I do know why they do this. It's the demographic. Only ancient people like Darling Husband and I still watch TV news. All the younger people get their news from their telephones. They "stream" and pay attention to blogs for news. We are the people who might be interested in a scooter that will expand our mobility. Ad people assume — probably correctly — that we have health problems, that money is tight and that many of us may be thinking about solutions for our problems. So it's time to talk about insurance that will never raise our premiums or drop us because of age. They know we're probably not in the market for a car that performs like a Formula 1 racecar. They're right about that. So we get pitched for a reverse mortgage.
Apparently they also think we're stupid. They spend a lot of time telling us how the EPA is destroying the possibility of there ever being jobs for Americans. This boils down to a pitch for "clean" coal. I guess they don't remember that our generation fought for the creation of the EPA. What makes them think we'll be delighted to see our old homes with a mountain view mowed down, the water polluted, and the quality of life forever destroyed? Oh yeah. We're all old and soft in the head so we'll believe anything.
I'm getting used to being inundated with products that must be appealing to people who are getting close to achieving our allotted four-score years. One thing I've learned in my decrepitude is that there are lot of vultures around. There are countless people who will be my new best friend … once they have their hands on whatever assets I have.
I have very serious doubts about the wisdom of having prescription drugs and lawyers advertise on television. We all know about the soaring costs of health care. Does anyone seriously think that the cost of this advertising isn't passed on to us? Maybe the ads really do increase sales enough to pay expenses, but who ever heard of a poor pharmaceutical company? Stories about poor old people abound.
Every day I read about some old person who has been scammed, swindled or otherwise cleaned out by people who purported to help them. The pharmaceutical companies and lawyers are not philanthropists out to help us.
Advertising provides jobs for a lot of people. It's probably a good thing they are not all running coal mines. But I'm tired of hearing about medications that will alleviate my psoriasis but might, as an unfortunate side effect, cause my death.
Sheila Stoll is happy to hear from readers but cannot respond to individual queries. Write to her at PMB No. 309, 7904 E Chaparral Road, No. 110, Scottsdale, AZ 85250.