Archive for the ‘things I'd like to see’ Category

@jeremycorbyn @HouseofCommons give the Speaker an independent police investigation team could be formed to support him with sex offenders.

November 4, 2017

Letter to Daily Mirror 1/11/17

The Speaker is in charge of policing MP behaviour, in the House
Perhaps he should also have charge of monitoring moral behaviour of MP’s etc. , generally.
An experienced and independent police investigation team could be formed, to support him. It would rely on fixed period secondments of officers from regional forces.
Where cases can’t be taken to court, at least offenders would know that their names were on a register and they needed to mend their ways.
The Speaker would be in a position to warn Party leaders of a need to nudge serial offenders to the exit

Printed version

T he Commons Speaker John  Bercow is in charge of policing MPs’ behaviour in the House, so perhaps he should also take charge of monitoring their moral behaviour generally.

An experienced and independent police investigation team could be formed to support him which could rely on fixed-period secondments of officers from regional forces.

Where cases can’t be taken to court, at least offenders would know that their names were on a register and they needed to mend their ways.

The Speaker would be in a position to warn party leaders of a need to nudge serial offenders to the exit.

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Blog post 16. 29/10/17

November 4, 2017

Letter to Daily Mirror 11/10/17

Anyone who has watched shows such as “It was alright in the 70’s” will have seen that older men being overly familiar with young women was accepted as part of the texture of life, back then: Indeed, in your article on Sabrina, it was seen to be the basis of her career.

The History of Weinstein can be traced back to that era but mores have changed and no-one told him. The fact that he was never rebuked would have reinforced his behaviour.

That the decades of young women, who came under his eyes, never made a fuss is understandable but similar cases will continue until women are able to report such issues.

Whistle-blowing to official bodies won’t work, because they will require the victims to bear witness, without even the certainty of a conviction, or protection of what was under threat.

I would suggest that, what is needed, is a group of more powerful sympathetic women to set up a well publicised independent body.
Such a body could set up stings to obtain solid evidence to catch enough culprits, as to make them think twice before repeating their behaviour.

Better to deter them, than try to pick up the pieces, after the event.
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Letter to Daily Mirror 14/10/17

If meteorite takes out your prize petunia’s.
If you find a dead dog outside your house.
If you are a young girl alone in an unknown part of town and can’t find your way home.
If you are old and infirm and can’t find your TV remote.
There are thousands of reasons why someone might want a little help but don’t know who to turn to.
Even with a telephone directory to hand, you could still be stuck.
It’s understandable why desperate people may dial 999.
Constant berating of the General Public by self-righteous officialdom may make good newspaper copy but it is unhelpful and unlikely to stop further calls from those in distress.
The whole idea of 999 was that it was an easy to remember number, which could be used by people who might be in an emotional state.
It’s a great idea and if we had politicians, who weren’t intent on saving pennies, whilst squandering £ Billions, we’d expand it.
How difficult, or expensive, would it be to have a second line of operators to take calls?
They’d direct first response to police, fire, ambulance or to volunteer services e.g. Citizens Advice, Samaritans, Local Government Association, crank caller prosecutions, or whatever.
Instead of Bureaucrats in uniform using “crank calls” as a cliche deflection of criticism, we’d have Government serving its function and a more content populace.
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Letter to Daily Mirror 14/10/17
I don’t often find cause for dispute with Brian Reade but popular ignorance of Hitler’s role in WWII is an indictment of Maggie’s National Curriculum, not the Nation’s intelligence.
Anyone, sufficiently intelligent to actively take part in the EU referendum and work out how to get to the polling station, or fill in a postal vote, is capable of forming a worthwhile opinion.
In this case, it seems the majority of intelligent opinion decided that the other 27 countries were not capable of acting in our best interests. An opinion seemingly borne out by their antagonistic negotiating of our withdrawal from the EU.
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Letter to Daily Mirror 17/10/17
I’m not surprised that the Post Office, which Vince Cable sold cheaply to his friends in the City, is doling out £500,000 to those shareholders, each day
The amount of advertising, which I’m forced to empty out of my letterbox and transfer to my recycling bin, is ridiculous.
I know it’s not all from the Post Office but if Politicians are so keen to appear to be Green, why don’t they make such advertising illegal?
It’s annoying; it’s wasteful and it’s a cost on Councils having to dispose of it.
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Letter to Daily Mirror 17/10/17
The intention of raising the age of exemption from paying National Insurance is being put across as a Tory gimmick to make younger voters think they are being wooed.
However, National Insurance was brought in to finance the NHS, pensions etc. and this measure looks more like the first stage in their previously announced intention of obliterating the last vestiges of our Welfare State.
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Letter to Daily Mirror 29/10/17
When I visited Marakesh, on holiday, I noticed that streets were bordered by orange trees.
I don’t know if they were free to harvest but it struck me that no-one in this desert country needed to die of thirst, or hunger.
It occurs to me, in these days of food banks, that it seems mean not to copy this civility.
In some ways it would be like H.F-W’s urban guerilla gardening but not so demanding of resources.
We have lots of open land near Wigan, with many, new, tree-lined roads.
Some of these trees bear edible cherries, presumably to feed the wild life, but why not plant more.
Add in walnuts, edible peaches, almonds, hazel nuts, medlars, apples etc.
Verges could bear strawberries, ramsons.
Wild patches could be planted with currants and raspberries. These are easily propagated fruits, for those inclined to help.
Some patches would, no doubt, revert to bramble and nettle, through neglect, but many would be adopted by volunteer groups and some plants, such as rhubarb, can easily outcompete the weeds.
The best thing is that the cost would be minimal and if done in quantity, it’d defeat the spoilers: A lesson learned through the wholesale planting of daffodils.
When Councils first laid out such roadside displays, they were raided by door to door peddlers. Nowadays this is no longer profitable.
I believe this could be true for wayside foods sources and could ease life for many.

#Brexit means cheap lamb for consumers, so large landowners are griping.

October 8, 2017

 

Sent to Daily Mirror 8/10/17
You report that if we go to WTO rules, we’d have to steal some of New Zealand’s quota for lamb imports to the EU.
My instant reaction is that this is a blatant lie.

Before we joined the Common Market, we imported New Zealand lamb and enjoyed it as our cheapest meat, other than fish.
Apart from the large landholders, who’d see anything wrong in the price of lamb and mutton falling to more reasonable levels?

The British public has no problem with frozen meat and, being outside the EU, we’d be able to increase New Zealand’s sale of lamb to us, so they’d actually welcome Brexit.

Caroline Lucas would also be pleased that animal welfare standards would be raised, as we would no longer be subjecting livestock to live transport across the Channel, to please the French demand for fresh killed meat.

British small-holding farmers were able to survive well enough, before we joined the Common Market, from the demand of gourmets for fresh killed meat.
It’s the large land-owning/farming companies, who’ll lose a lucrative share of the EU Market, who are raising this bogus claim.

Why doesn’t Big Business get together and build a new Capital City and leave London to the hired help.

February 26, 2017

What if the cost of business rates etc. in London were hurting profits, wouldn’t it pay a Consortium to create a new Business Capital.
Pick some place with lots of brown land property, central to the largest connurbations, with adequate transport links close-by.
I’m thinking somewhere at the base of the Pennines but somewhere like Huddersfield might be an alternative, used as a Northern Capital, leaving London for politicians and tourists.
This new Capital (or second Capital) would serve as the business capital.
It would be laid out with an ergonomic view to function and futurosity.
My personal choice would be based on the human body

{ i.e. A large area for inward goods and warehousing would be the mouth and stomach. The Admin and Head Offices would be next with Entertainment and Service businesses following. Finally would come the lowly manufacturing, waste management and export facilities. The body of the population would be housed on either side of this alimentary canal.One side would be cheap housing and the other would be executive housing (just like A US railway town). The whole thing would have buffer regions for future expansion/contraction and re-routing, as new or different modes of transport arose and to allow for major disruptions. There would be large underground tunnels (blood vessels) to incorporate the utilities and reduce the digging up of roads.}

Whatever the chosen layout, its main importance would be to ditch London and its associated problems of patchwork structure, potential flooding, high pollution, commuter snarl-ups, high living costs etc.

Consider; Business and the population don’t need to be in London for access to Parliament.
All Government produces is Newspaper copy and verbiage, which can all be obtained digitally.
In fact the only reason that Business has its HQ’s in London, is because Business has its HQ’s in London. Any other place would serve as well. At least that’s the reason used by banks to continually threaten to move, unless Government gives them more money.
Covent Garden, National Theatre, The Oval etc. can all be re-located in purpose built venues in the new Entertainment zone.
There is nothing London can offer, which can’t be improved on and replaced in a new capital

@guardian time to create a defence to cyber warfare

January 25, 2017

There appears to be a lot of concern about cyber warfare but no plan of action.

May I suggest a line of attack?

It requires our politicians to forego the desire to foster the interests of businesses and help them in their quest to find new ways of extracting profit from the masses.

I mean that The State should protect the domestic computer market and its customers.

I’m not referring to legislation against malware but in removing our vulnerability to it.

There are freeware programs (spybot, ccleaner, malware malbytes, AVG antivirus etc.), which do a good job of reducing viruses on business websites by helping to reduce the wild populations.

How much better would it be, if we had a cyber version of the NHS?

A State run (MI5 in alliance with some of the freeware companies ) UK computer Health Service (UKCHS), where professional teams monitored the latest hacks, viruses, trojans etc. and created counter-measures.

There must be many small business’s, which do not have the expertise, or finance, to defend themselves from ransomware etc.

One of the bugbears, of even large organisations, is the use of DOS attacks. These rely on a myriad of domestic PC’s infected with Bots.

The UKCHS would, potentially, be able to inoculate and clean out this source of pestilence. This, last, assumes a globally accessible service, which, in turn, means it’d be able to monitor the earliest manifestations of any malware and variants.

The icing on the cake would be, if the UKCHS could create a rival platform to Microsoft Windows.

We have supported Microsoft Windows by relying on it in our schools and by its pre-installed presence on domestic PC’s.

God knows how much cash flees these shores to fund The USA Treasury (America first?) and Bill Gates’s  lifestyle.

The problem with Microsoft Windows has always been its design flaws, aimed at controlling consumer access to software and in mining our data.  (I read that It enabled the USA to have access to high level USSR secrets).

Every new generation has gone out with backdoors and other exploitable faults, which has fostered a subculture of hackers (antagonistic to Microsoft charges) intent on discovering them.

Add in unintentional flaws, such as the millennium bug, which was present in several generations of windows and which caused a global panic.

How many hours are spent, by all users, installing updates to patch up a designed-in vulnerability, which has then needed further patches?

A platform, free from intentional vulnerabilities, would be a lot easier to defend from cyber attack and it would pay for itself in reduced downtime.

 

musings on salary cap

January 14, 2017

I had already considered the need for a salary cap, as mentioned in some older blogs. The fact that Corbyn and his team have hit on this, as a solution to inequity, has caused me to commit sume of my own musings to blogdom.

It’s not intended as a fully thought-out plan. Just a contribution.

In an era when we have marriages and partnership’s, no longer conforming to the classical concept of a family unit, it is time to re-evaluate income tax structure.
We no longer have the male breadwinner and the stay at home housewife, so it’s time to treat all citizens as stand-alone taxpayers.
The family allowance was to encourage the creation of a stronger nation, at a time when workers and soldiers were of importance.
This no longer applies, as technology is increasingly replacing muscle power.
In fact, the problem of a geometrically increasing overpopulation demands that we should take measures to gently resist it.
Everybody is entitled to receive consideration from the whole of Society and to return it in equal measure.
In terms of taxation, this means everyone legally defined as an adult (of sufficiently sound mind and body to make a useful contribution to Society *), should be remunerated in proportion to their contribution to Society. This can not be decided by committee and must relate to market forces. The only problem with market forces is that they are corrupted by monopolies and cartels.
The only way to defeat the conniving of bureaucratic committee’s and avaricious cartels etc. is to limit the range of remuneration (a cap on income).
The bottom of the range must be a citizen’s pension, for those unable to contribute to any useful extent. This should cover the cost of basic needs, which humanity insists should include a modicum of joie de vivre. (Gandhi is supposed to have said that you can judge how a nation treats its people by how it treats its animals.. joie de vivre).
The next rung must be to reward those in employment that can, or would be done, by anyone. I would say that this would include employment such as shop assistant, call centre operative, porter etc. but Society should decide.
Society would also have to decide how many tiers of employment there should be and the appropriate pay increments.
First Society needs to decide on the top of the range of pay and this will be the real problem.
For me, any person’s income must relate to how much greater his, or her, contribution to Society is, than someone on the lowest rung.
Consider a few of the, at present, highest paid.
{Don’t quibble about the exact values being quoted, they are extremely rough guestimates but carry the essence of the position being presented}
A premier league footballer, for instance: In my lifetime, such a salary has gone from 5x basic wage, to 500 x  basic wage. This is a reflection of the joie de vivre that they contribute, to a much larger number of people, but also to their political muscle, or market forces.
How about an M.P.? Their basic pay is only about 4x basic wage. Add in allowances, golden pensions etc. and it’s probably nearer 10 x basic wage.
A banker? their pay is just obscene, so skip it for a minute.
A C.E.O. of a multi-national? Paid millions with some paid hundreds of millions. Again, skip for a minute.
A pop-star? Internationally known pop-stars rake in more than banker’s, although they do add joie de vivre to millions. Only problem is they decide how much each person pays for it, so effectively in a monopoly position.

How do you decide their worth?
Few have the skills of Wayne Rooney but he does give pleasure to many, for a few hours, each week, of the football season.
On the other hand, how does he compare to a G.P.? A person with skills, years of training, making a huge difference to the lives of several thousand, as and when needed.
I think most would say that a G.P. earns his salary and possibly more.
This pay is about 5x basic wage.
So does Wayne Rooney contribute 100 x more to Society than a G.P.?
It seems to depend on replaceability and the amount of positive interaction with other people.
It’s all very subjective and would need to be put to a public vote.
Simplest would be rate to these jobs in terms of swapsies.
How many G.P.’s for one teacher, road sweeper, nurse, surgeon, M.P., banker, CEO, farmer, shepherd, coalminer, etc.?
At the end of the exercise, we take the figure, which is the largest multiple of the basic wage.
Let’s say it’s 100 x basic wage.
We set a tax system which starts with zero tax for those on 2 x basic wage and goes up to 100% at 101 x basic wage (a cap). That’s not a mistake. If you are being paid 101 x basic wage, you can reduce your tax rate to say 50% (whatever the top rate is), by a simple tax donation of the excess. It would be up to the individual to ensure that they don’t get caught cheating, e.g. by taking payment in kind.
The last would require an end to all bonuses and allowances for business expenses. No farmer’s Range Rovers, no business man’s entertainment in strip club’s, no private jets etc. for PM’s and CEO’s.
Some leeway might be excused for accidental oversight’s but only upto 1 x basic wage.

This is just a skeleton view, which those capable of deeper thought could flesh out and those on obscene pay would want thrown out.

Some attention has to be paid to those unable to make a significant contribution. Ignoring young entrepreneur’s and the likes of Bruce Forsyth, most non-adults, disabled and elderly would qualify for the basic wage.
Now, another problem arises. Ever since “Cathy come home”, popular support has been in favour of supporting the unmarried Mother, or “single parent”. Previously, “having a bastard” was almost a sin and so Cathy had been cast out by Society. In order to take the moral sting out of the situation, the “bastard” became “the innocent child, who didn’t ask to be born”. Abortion was still illegal and back street abortions (the film “Alfie”) were morally repugnant.
It became social mores that all children should be supported by the State, if the errant father couldn’t be hunted down etc.
The CSA apparently does a wonderful job of persecuting and prosecuting those fathers, who are happy and willing to support their progeny but offer little service in terms of the feckless and prolific, who service equally feckless young women who see State support for single parents as a means of avoiding responsibility for their own lives.
If each child received the minimum wage, there would appear to be a problem but only if their single parent had control of it. Instead, each parent could be given control of one child’s wage, whilst the wages of any further children would go to the local Council’s care fund, giving them a co-parental duty of care, when needed..
A single parent could have more than one child but would have to treat the Council care officer as a partner, supporting when needed, or stepping in, if the parent was unable to cope.
Families, who were able to fund their progeny, from their own income, would merely need to show it through regular school attendance etc. (i.e. by not becoming a cause of concern to local authorities).
Errant father’s could still be pursued by the CSA but, on the assumption that they were on min wage, could be conscripted into some form of Community support…. depends on what could be made to work!

Businesses would also need to be capped in some form, perhaps in terms of the number of subsidiaries, or divisions, or partnerships. No one person can usefully be said to control hundred’s of diverse businesses, in diverse locations operating in various fields of commerce.
In any work group, you have one leader, an aide and four or five co-workers. Any bigger group has non-contributing members, or a clique working in opposition to the leader. The leader of a group can only really oversee about 30 people. This is, co-incidentally, a typical teacher’s class size. Taking this further, in school terms, each faculty has upto 9 teachers, with some heads of Department, under the head of Faculty. The headteacher may have a group of Assisstant Headteacher, Deputy Head teacher and Senior teacher’s, each overseeing a few faculties, pastoral heads (one for each year group, with 6/7 form teachers). Essentially groups of six.
Any boardroom, committee, cabinet etc., with more than six people, effectively has a load of makeweights (and they know it).
Continuing with the Secondary school model, any business with more than about 1200 (a cap) shop floor employee’s, is too large and should be split up, under a new tier of management. However, no new tier should coninequity trol businesses with no direct link.
No single person, or group of persons, should own so many businesses that the hierarchical salary structure takes their pay above the income cap for individuals.
Obviously businesses can hire very clever people, who can invent ways and arguments to try and circumvent such control but the spirit of the cap

better to go to Deimos than Mars.

September 30, 2016

It occurs to me that all discussion, of colonising Mars, has ignored the Moons of Mars.
 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moons_of_Mars
The two moons both have extremely low gravity and it would be much easier to land on them.
It would make sense to use them as way-stations, allowing interplanetary craft to repair and replenish themselves before a final descent.
They would serve the same purpose as our own Space station would do for return flights.
The added benefits include the possibility of mining into the moons, giving greater protection from meteorite impacts and solar storms (Mars has no magnetic shield).
Extra fuel and resources could easily be placed on either moon, using unmanned vehicles, to enable extra supplies, for emergencies, to be built up.
At some remote point in the future, we may wish to move onto Titan, or, preferably out of the Solar System and unless we get FLT drives, it makes more sense to proceed at sub-light speeds (more like crawling pace) on a very large craft such as Deimos, complete with a living population inhabiting it.
I think the future of Mars lies in providing agricultural supplies for the moon bases, rather than creating a race of Martians .

SF suggestions have been to use populations from Peru or Tibet, who are used to low Oxygen levels and/or terra-forming Mars, using mass and ice from the asteroid belt.
But why bother with such a great effort, merely to move next-door, when any catastrophe could easily affect both home planets?
Whichever way the future takes us, I think craft going directly to Mars, rather than its moons, are, unnecessarily, increasing the risks of a landing disaster.

@UKLabour Owen Smith criticises Jeremy Corbyn’s plan for shadow cabinet elections. He claims it is divisive but doesn’t say how, or why he has said this. What is so bad about this proposal?

September 18, 2016
Owen Smith criticises Jeremy Corbyn’s plan for shadow cabinet elections.
He claims it is divisive but doesn’t say how, or why he has said this.
What is so bad about this proposal?
I.e. a third of shadow cabinet posts are elected by members, a third by MPs and a third chosen by the leader.
Consider them.
Posts selected by member’s would likely be based on popularity, initially, but then member’s would likely look at their suitability e.g. A teacher as Education Minister etc. That couldn’t harm.
Posts selected by MP’s would still allow for a little bit of networking by careerists, hopeful of catching the eye of those looking for the next leader.
Posts selected by the leader would likely be the Senior posts, giving the Leader the confidence of being supported on most major issues, without the danger’s of cronyism, apparent in Cameron’s cabinet.
It is likely that the leader would also select member’s from the other groups, where they had shown proven ability.
Such a set-up would discourage the situation whereby Corbyn, Miliband and Brown were all undermined by MP’s intent on self-advancement.

@LucyMPowell @jeremycorbyn Comprehensives aren’t

September 15, 2016

The trouble with comprehensives is that they aren’t.  Especially when mixed in with Public schools and Grammar Schools.
They are too small to comprehensively bring out the talents of all pupils.
Consider the typical urban secondary school.
It’s built to house about 1000 pupils, i.e it has a 7 form entry with 200 pupils per year group.
What’s it meant to provide?
The core requirement is education in English, Maths and Science. English can be split into English literature and English Language. Science is essentially Biology, some Chemistry and a nod at Physics.
We actually have 6 core subjects.
Take in a foreign language (usually French), History, Geography and P.E.
We now have 10 topics.
How about Civics, Drama, Handicrafts, R.E., Domestic Science, Art, Business Studies, I.T. and whatever else may be demanded by various high-minded pressure groups.
That’s 18 topics, which we want to inculcate in a school week of 37.5 hours.

Allowing for movement between classrooms, registration etc., we can say 2 hours per subject per week.
This is jiggled around a bit, with some internal segregation based on staff procurement and administrative whim.
But, basically, we are offering the seemingly attractiveg goal of a rounded education.
Is that what we, pupils included, need?

I contend that we are producing generalists, when we need specialists and when we should be catering for the interests and natural talents of our Children, not squeezing them into a one size fits all.

Comprehensives, as they are, can’t cope with specialists, as well as a dedicated school can.
If we want to develop natural talents then we need a system, which allows pupils to focus on relevant skills, as and where needed.
This means either small class sizes, or bigger intakes.
Both cases call for extra facilities and extra staff.
(last I heard; in UK schools, budgets were 80% staff and 20% facilities, whereas in the USA, those proportions are reversed).
UK Government would never spend that much on Schools (Look at how cheaply built, the buildings are).
Either schools have to be coalesced into one large campus, or individual pupils need to attend more than one school.

Pupils, who may be destined for a sports career, needing extra coaching in caring for their physicality, understanding their bodies and how to avoid long term damage, whilst still young: With an eye to possible alternative careers, such as Physio’s etc.
Those with acting skills need relevant, coaching plus an engagement with literature, stage direction etc.
Doctor’s, nurses etc. need all three Sciences (plus Latin).
Engineer’s need the Hard Sciences, Mathematics and a good familiarity with structural handicrafts.
I’m sure experts from these fields could better outline the extra teaching and facilities required by pupils.

An extra thought is that Friday is the most problematic, in terms of maintaining discipline.  Making this the specialist school day would not only help, here, but would facilitate any out-of-school excursions.

Pupils would also need guidance and advice, which could probably be better provided by a social worker,  attached to the needs of the child rather than the school.  (as opposed to a Head of Year)
Such a person could better co-ordinate pressures from home and school, with power to swiftly change school provision, as circumstances require.
Personally I’d have such people directly controlled by Central Government, to avoid local political pressures on them, but most politicians don’t think in such terms.

@andyburnhammp @GdnPolitics @dailyexpressuk Comprehensives have failed, So have Grammars.

September 7, 2016

Instead of chanting “grammar schools bad”, “comprehensives good”, step back a minute and think about what it is you want.
I would say most (Parents and Society) want a populace doing what they are best at and what they enjoy most.

Generally speaking these are identical aims.
The old adage that “nothing succeeds like success” merely reflects that we enjoy doing what we’re good at.
It is a crime to force kids to undertake a one size fits all education.

Instead of railing at Grammar schools, we should think about what they were intended to do.

They were intended to “cream off” (an unfortunate allusion) the Academic slash professional classes and fast track them.

They were partially successful and helped Working class kids of my post-war generation to break through the class barrier. The fact that they neglected the remaining 80% of the population was abominable but all that Comprehensives did was kick those working class kids back into the stew.

We’ve had nearly half a century of the comprehensive experiment and only those blinded by political ideology would say it has been successful.
Instead of decrying selection, I demand that we consider greater selection.
We all have different aptitudes and preferences.
In my case the 11+ was ideally designed to select me as a Physicist i.e. good at Maths, seeing patterns and mentally lazy.
In Ancient Sparta selection was for hardiness and stamina. I would have failed miserably.
We need a system that allows people to show their innate skills and predilections.

Throw out SAT’s etc. and work backwards.

What skills are needed to be a linguist? A politician (integrity?), an artist, an actor etc.
Forget about what Industrialists say they need (they’re all pratt’s, antway), see what you’ve got.

I recall applying for a job as a fork lift truck driver and being rejected as being TOO brainy. I was told I’d get bored and bugger off, as soon as I was trained. They wanted someone, who would achieve satisfaction by such a job and take pride in being speedy and careful. All jobs have their own requirements.

Instead of shoving stuff into heads that reject that stuff, let’s identify what’s there and draw it out; that’s, etymologically what education means.