Wednesday, February 20, 2008

After The Fact

It's been said that there's a fine line between madness and genius. Some years ago, Niall Clarke crossed that line. The brilliant computer science student morphed into a paranoid schizophrenic, but only his family cared about the dangerous transition.

Mr. Clarke was at the top of his class at Trinity College, on the verge of earning his degree and thinking of starting up his own software company. Before that day arrived, he dropped it all and headed off to Thailand. His calls home were nothing more than angry outbursts directed at his father. The family knew that the boy had gone over the edge.

Michael Clarke recognized the symptoms. His mother had gone mad as well, just like Niall, and the father was quick to seek help from the national health care system. The boy would have to be committed.

Don't want him, thanks, see yaz, said the authorities.

Niall left Ireland and went to America, where he self-medicated with alcohol, but Guinness isn't a proper treatment for insanity. One fine day, he walked into a bank in Bangor, Maine, and held up the teller at gunpoint. Being a rank amateur in the robbery game, he was caught in no time.

An American judge handed down a lenient sentence for Mr. Clarke, recommending that he be jailed in a place with a psychiatric facility. At last, Niall will get the help that he needs -- courtesy of the United States taxpayers.

If he had been put away when his father asked, Niall would never have endangered anyone in Bangor. But if he had been locked up in Ireland, the Irish would have to cover the costs of his treatment, and in the end, the Health Service Executive is that much more to the good.

Are we to expect a flood of sick people, tired of waiting for treatment through Ireland's national health care system? Stick 'em up, I've got a gun and a bad heart in need of a pacemaker.....

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