Saturday, October 30, 2010

Reviews: Everything Matters, Ring Around the Sun, Foundling

Book Review: Everything Matters by Ron Currie Jr.

A modern Candide. Voltaire used his episodic tale of misery and woe to demonstrate that happiness can never really be found, not until the very end, when the main characters all live in a shack and tend a garden outside. Living life is the only true happiness that mankind can have, and no amount of philosophical reasoning, or wealth, or fame, can ever get him that status. Except that's not the book I'm here to review.

I love apocalyptic books. I can remember reading When Worlds Collide by Wylie and Balmer at Band Camp, laying on the couch in the building next to our cabin and loving every minute of the book (well, the comfy couch and air conditioning helped.) There's nothing like the end of the world, and Currie's book is all about that. Except, the main character, Junior Thibodeax, has known all his life that the world will end on a certain day in the future, and it's the alien voices' experiment to see whether the knowledge of impending doom has any impact on his life. Whether, in a world where nothing matters, if anything matters at all. Starting with a blow by blow of his deliverance in the hospital, to his destruction by asteroid (maybe), the book details his life with a sardonic irony and humor that is quite entertaining. With Junior's knowledge and intelligence he sets out to save the human race, trying to fight the prediction that everyone will die in a gigantic fireball.

However, whether he succeeds or not, we aren't really sure, because the aliens come to him right before the end date and explain to him something he already knew... that the Earth he lived on is only one of millions of possibilities in a multiverse separated only by a sliver of a second. That basically there is a ring around the sun of different realities, and in each of those Earths, Junior makes a different decision, from not squashing a bug to not telling his big secret to his girlfriend, which effects the outcome of the world tremendously. It's the whole butterfly in the Sahara theory. A bit of a spoiler, but, the ending chapters are considerably different than the rest, and nothing much happens, but in the end, Junior's realization that Everything Matters proves the aliens wrong in their original assumption, and proves Voltaire right.

Book Review: Ring Around the Sun by Clifford D. Simak

I read this book right afterward because it influences so many authors and novels in the present day. Simak is one of the most important Science Fiction writers of the early 1960's, mostly because he created novels of marvelous ideas, ones with much potential and meat on them, if you understand. But Simak didn't always create great characters and plots to go along with those ideas (like so many other science fiction novels, the ideas are more important than the story). However, Ring Around the Sun is not one of those. It is a marvelous sci-fi novel, centering around the very idea that Currie used in Everything Matters, that the Earth is only one of millions of Earths existing in multiple space-time planes. This book is mentioned in Stephen King's Hearts in Atlantis and influenced King in his Dark Tower series. It is, in my opinion, a book that should be included in the modern Western Literary Cannon, mainly because it merges literature and science in a way that most high school students could easily understand it and enjoy it.

In the story, Jay Vickers, on his way to a meeting with a Mr. Crawford, sees a shop selling Forever Light Bulbs, as well as a razor that never needs sharpening, a car that runs forever...etc... This, explains Crawford, is crippling the industries of the world, causing chaos and fear. Vickers is supposed to investigate it and expose it in articles to be published. But it's not all that simple, because the people behind the Forever Light Bulb are trying to save the world, not destroy it.

A fabulous book, one that I've read twice now. It's very rare for me to do that. The other books I've read twice include LOTR, Lord Foul's Bane by Stephen R. Donaldson, Dragonriders of Pern by McCaffrey, and Dandelion Wine by Bradbury. Simak's book easily ranks among these.

Music Review: Foundling by David Gray

Okay... this is the album Gray should have released instead of Drawing the Line. A work of introverted folk musings that is more reminiscent of a Monet painting than music itself. It is, like most of his albums, in need of a little tweaking. But that is easily done with modern MP3 players. Take out a couple of tracks from CD1, and add a couple from CD2 (a double disc album), especially "Who's Singing Now," and you've got an album that can be repeated over and over in your car or as background music in the home. Fantastic!!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Football: Something has to Give

Let's take football and deconstruct it.  Lay it bare upon the field between the goal posts and see what lies inside the ball, and the player's need to drive it down the field toward some imaginary line.  Let's take all the violence of the game, the hitting of tanks against each other resulting in concussions and long term mental conditions, and let's reduce it to the basics of human nature.  Take apart the game itself, and you are left with mankind, with a man himself, and the insatiable desire to be victorious.  The coach says, "Winning is everything."  Such words could never be more true in the minds of man. 

I once quoted a blog dealing with Tribalism and Football by a John Stonger, from a blog site called Heretical Ideas.  The website is no longer there, of course. Such is the effervescent nature of the Internet, where ideas come and go, flickering like a candle flame until it is blown out when someone can't pay their bill.  Good articles shouldn't just be deleted (I have all my blogs printed out on paper twice at least, so that it won't be electronically destroyed.) But I digress... 
Basically, it says that, someplace in the subconscious region of our brain, we retain the tribal instincts of our ancestors.  Like animals, we recognize the idea of the Alpha Male and Alpha Female.  That even in this society, there are always people who are better than others, stronger, faster, smarter, and those should fight to reach the top.  And this happens every day, from the financial world to the political one. Although now days we're not talking about using clubs or, in the case of my brother's cats, claws and teeth, to best one another.  We have reached a point where victory is one of mental power, of financial success.  But still we like to see the power of brute physical strength triumph over those who are like-built.  It's been this way for a while, from the Ancient Greeks and their Olympics, to the Roman Coliseum, to today's professional sports. Even in Meso-America, where soccer games meant the winner was a hero, and the loser was sacrificed to the Gods.  It's not so different today (the loser, or the manager of the losing team, usually gets roasted on the Internet and then fired from their job.) than hundreds of years ago.  As I've said in previous postings, the modern day Football player is no different from the Gladiators of Ancient Rome.  Well, except for in Rome, the Lions usually won. 

We like seeing people succeed in sports, breaking records, claiming victory over those much larger than they are... but we also like to see them fall.  The gladiator of Rome would become a hero to those after a Farve-like performance, but there was a certain satisfaction in seeing the loser, well, die or get eaten by some ferocious animal.  We want to see the quarterback get sacked.  Those who are pleasant and civilized are suddenly wanting the Defensive Backs to break a QB's arms.  Violence is wished upon to other humans, and in this case, it's perfectly legal and even encouraged.

The ironic thing is that, at least in the Pros, this happens mostly on Sundays.  The Bible tells us to be humble, to "turn the other cheek," to forgive our enemies.  Then we go home (or to Applebee's) and cheer at the TV when someone gets knocked unconscious by a devastating tackle.  Society has in its very essence a desire to be non-violent, and it does so by having outlets for violence to occur in highly regulated, specific ways.  Thus, sports are a needed and healthy part of today's world.  A recent book on the matter of violence in Football calls it A War without Death.  It makes sense to use the "war" metaphor when talking about football (go to Youtube and find George Carlin's act on Baseball vs. Football). 
So it comes as no surprise, given the situation, to find that ESPN's NFL PrimeTime show, prior to the Monday Night game, took off its "Jacked Up" section, where they showed the most vicious hits of the week, and replaced it with a "Com'On Man," where they complained about stupid things that happened that weekend. The former section was very popular, so it seemed odd to have it pulled. 

The reasoning is that with the current hype of helmet to helmet hits being investigated by the NFL and most media outlets, any type of untoward violence on the field, even the acts which we might find satisfying and entertaining, must be looked at.  Thus ESPN did the politically correct thing and eliminated a platform by which defensive players could be shown in a highlight reel.  Yet the vicious hits still are shown on replays and reels time and time again on Sportscenter and even in the games themselves.  So the media is both promoting and condemning such violent physical acts. 

I think Canton would be a good place for the media to go, see the players that are in the Hall of Fame that were originally inducted. Those that played many years ago, and see how we have evolved from light infantry players to heavily armored Abrams M1A1 Tanks.  The padding on the uniforms and the thickness of the helmets make each player a veritable battering ram, and the NFL has allowed this all to protect the player. 

Which is why the person with the best opinion on how to curtail concussions and violent tackles is Joe Paterno, who has lived through most of the modern football era.  His idea is to get rid of part of the helmet, the facemask, in order to change the psychological mindset of defensive players.  Troy Aikman said here that even getting rid of the helmets all together would eliminate such hard hits on the players.  Makes sense to me. 

In a time when such extreme punishments are given out for using performance enhancing drugs, football players become superhuman when they put on all the padding and the protection and the rock of a helmet and go play. But if football becomes a sport of pure human physical endurance, of psychological tricks and athletic ability, all this tanking of players isn't necessary. 

What else can be done to eliminate the injuries sustained in football?  Well, after making the humans more natural, let's make the field more natural.  Artificial turf is wonderful for domed stadiums for northern cities, but it has no give when you are plummeted down upon it.  If you hit the soft grass and mud, the impact will be absorbed somewhat.  Try doing that on plastic or concrete. 

Ultimately, however, the line from Airplane! fits this situation best. "They bought their tickets. They knew what they were getting into." Football players, when they accept the millions of dollars in payment for becoming gladiators for all of America to watch, know that they are going to become bruised, squashed, tackled, and probably injured along the way.  They know that, afterward, they will probably have lingering pains and problems on throughout life, but they accept the money  and the contract anyway.  And while the unfortunate mental conditions brought on by concussions can lead to abuse, suicide, even murder, in some respects, it is a risk that the player is taking when playing Football.  That having been said, the NFL should have the best health insurance in the world, using the finest of doctors to look after players after they retire.  It should be as the secret service is the President.  We all watch these men destroy themselves for the sake of our entertainment, and we agree with the paychecks they receive. We should give them the same respect and benefits after they leave the game and must face real life with the pains they have endured.  Something has to give.  It should be the padding, the playing field, and, ultimately, the NFL.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Driving Song

There are many things I would rather do than drive.  Drinking Lysol is one of them.  Driving is a nuisance, a menial task that takes entirely too much time and costs too much money. Watching the traffic reports on the Atlanta interstates reminds me of the scene in T.S. Eliot's "The Waste Land," where thousands of mindless, wordless people are crossing the bridge into the city.  And inside those cars, people are listening to their radios, to endless music with indeterminable meanings, to conservative talk show host rattling on truths and half truths and sometimes outright lies, all to mesmerize the listener into action.  Inside those cars are the children screaming or sleeping or playing, looking up out of the roof hatch up at the sky and dreaming they could fly, seeing themselves move through the clouds as the road moved under them.  I think REM got it exactly right in the video for "Everybody Hurts," as, in the end, they are all people trapped inside their cars, trapped inside the memories and the thoughts that can't escape, but sit, traveling as they are traveling, through miles of pavement.  The only real escape, as in the video, is to get out of the cars and walk.  Something totally unexpected.  To shout from the bridge and run the other way.  To say, "Snap out of it!" to the people on Eliot's bridge.  To get out and walk and never to look back.  Yes.  It's escape.  It's illogical and probably impossible, but you have to look at driving this way.   While most people see driving, much as in the car commercials, as getting away from your life and winding down twisted roads toward the mountains or the beach, leaving their lives behind, it doesn't always work that way.  For what if those people weren't able to leave themselves behind, like old laundry or the faded memories that appear and then dissolve away?  What if you have to bring yourself with you, with all the memories and the heartaches and the trials and troubles that have gathered and stuck to the underside of your mind like barnacles on a veteran ship?  Then it wouldn't matter how far you drove, or how loud the music was, it would still be the same you, driving down the same road.  And you would be waiting for you when you got there.  With the same problems, the same expectations. 

So you see why I don't like driving.  But sometimes.... oh yes, sometimes.  When driving down the interstates at the end of the evening, during the twilight hours, there is this temptation.  To, as John Mayer would say, to keep the car and drive. To pass the exits of home and just keep on going.  Then, and only then, would the me that is me not be there.  Because then is freedom, is creation.  You become clay again, to be molded in your own fashion.  It's why so many artists write songs about their cars.  For instance, David Crosby, on the Thousand Roads album, wrote "Too Young To Die,":

Sweet old racin' car of mine
Roarin' down that broken line
I never been so much alive
Too fast for comfort, too low to fly
Too young to die
In a world totally different from the world in which he lived, from the drug use and all the escapes that are not really escapes at all but just temporary reprieves.  As in dreams, or books, or video games, or driving for hours into the wild unknowns. But in the end, there's always the return, back to reality. And that's okay, because you can't escape from you forever, but like a shot of Ether, a temporary break into the lands of your favorite book, it's a suspension of this life into another, or into nothingness.   

One of my associates at work talked about how the past experiences that I've had with driving effects the way I see it now.  And that makes sense.  As a child, it was either going to the store or to the doctors office (through which I was feeling really ill, if I was going to Doctor Gormley about something.), or to get my allergy shots at the hospital clinic in north Oklahoma City.  Which of course was wonderful getting a shot or two every week.  The destination was the problem.  I was never looking forward to going anywhere.  The only time during that part of my life I looked forward to was the drive down to Sulphur, Oklahoma where my grandparents had their lakehouse (see previous blogs). Then it was an hour drive south on I-35 past Pauls Valley and Wynnewood and Davis, down long a windy roads into a forest and gravel roads and to a secluded house where the world never seemed to invade, not even television.  That was freedom, because the end place continued the illusion of getting away from everything.  Which, of course, it didn't, but as I was a child, there was little to run away from.  But my dad still had his heart problems and the economy and all the adults seemed to have some problem or another, either with each other or with themselves.  But it was easier to forget there. 

Of course, then there are the cars themselves.  There is a certain joy in owning your own car.  Everyone knows this. For some reason, actually owning a car, making it your own, however that's done, be it french fries under the seat, or those adaptations you make so that the car will go down the road, the idiosyncrasies that make the car what it is, almost makes it organic. My 1988 Honda was like that.  And the stories of how, since no one told me where drive was on the stick shift, I plopped it to the bottom and drove off to Macon going 80. Now, going 80 on low gear tends to ruin things.  Thus my $2,000  Honda cost me $3500.  And then I learned to drive the car with both feet, with the left foot on the break and the right on the gas, so it wouldn't die at intersections and such.  Or my 1997 Mercury Mystique which had problems from the get go, and it only lasted a year or so, but I liked the car.  It was mine.  It was an exit.  It was potential.  I think we all fall in love with that potential, with the idea that, although we never do it, that car is a method by which we run away from it all.  It's the feeling in those hours before the sun sets when we just want to keep driving, away from everything we've known and never come back.  Should we ever do it, we'd find simply the same us lying over the next hill, at the next exit, past the intersection and the rest stop. 

And if I ever decide to go driving, to go on a vacation away from that which is me, I'll put Shawn Mullins' album Soul's Core on the CD player and keep it on rotate.  He captures the essence of nostalgia (which is really just escape) and the longing for freedom all into the tracks of the music, which, like the automobile, travels throughout the US finding places that we've never been, but would like to, one day, just around the setting of the sun. 

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Language of Sex, Part 1

So let us rise, then, from our speakeasy, this secluded room in our brains, where innuendo and double meanings flow from synapse to synapse like a well crafted sit-com, and we shall talk about sex.  Specifically, the time that we live in, where sex has become at once more prohibitive a subject than alcohol in the 1920's, and yet more widely talked about and displayed than ever before.  I want to combine the thoughts of Neil Postman and Michael Foucault and see why things are the way they are.  Specifically, why innuendos and double meanings find their way into our daily communications, from children's shows to normal conversations, even amongst people for which talking about sex is permissible.  Secondly, why Disney at once seems to prohibit even the most innocent of acts (such as wearing a bathing suit), and yet will allow jokes about sex and body functions to be shown in even its animated shows.  Also, and on a related note, I want to look at the peculiar public image of Miley Cyrus, who has demonstrated the argument of the dual nature of the Language of Sex in today's society. 

Postman is most known for his, "The Medium is the Message," statement.  How we communicate is just as important, if not more so, than what we communicate.  Gutenberg changed the medium from an oral retelling of stories and news (or hand-printed scrolls and books stashed away in monasteries and mansions for the literate and the pious to interpret) to a written medium.  Books became cheaper and more available. Thus, more people could afford, and need to, read.  It increased their knowledge, gave them more information on which to enhance their lives.  But with this was the writing of books with more fictional, more erotic content. you can find a listing of these on Wikipedia , under Erotic Literature.

You can't talk about sex without also talking about control.  To deny human beings of the most basic, the most biological of needs, and to have those human beings consent to the rules that are set, that must be control indeed.  Whether we are talking about rules coming from God, Church, or the State, there is a power that controls people's emotions, their need and appetite for sex.  For the moment, let's leave out the relationship between God and sex, as that is an entirely different post.   We can look at the Church, who, pre-Gutenberg, had the ability to reproduce books, to read them, and to interpret the rules of Catholicism to assert their power over the people of Europe.  It was St. Benedict, founder of the monastic group, who asserted that monks must sleep with the lanterns burning, and with their clothes on, as to prevent them from relieving sexual urges with fellow monks.

What's really interesting about what Foucault has to say on the subject (and btw, Foucault's books on the subject of sexuality should be taken only as a basis to further research, as his theory's lack specific examples and more concrete sources from Church and Industrial documents. The ideas are sound, but need more work, especially as it concerns modern day society.) is that much of the relationship between the church and sex in the post-Gutenberg world comes from 1700's Italian theologian Alfonso de Liguori, whose views concerning sex was very conservative.  His idea was that the "sins of the flesh" went far beyond the act of sex itself, but rather to the inner workings of the human mind.  He says that while reviewing the sins in your life for forgiveness by God (through confession to the RC priests), one must analyze every thought, even unto examining dreams, to find the roots of sin and flush them out.  What results from this is the publishing of diaries, memoirs, of lives of sexual hedonism, the most noted being the Marquis de Sade.  One that Foucault mentions is an anonymous writer, who published My Secret Life in the late 1800's.  In the memoir (which might have a Frey-like fictitious exaggeration to it), he says, "a secret life must not leave out anything; there is nothing to be ashamed can never know too much concerning human nature." In analyzing his own actions, his own subconscious thoughts, he is basically creating erotic literature while doing what Liguori suggested to wipe out sexual thoughts. He also is following Alexander Pope's "An Essay on Man," which says, "Know then thyself, presume not God to scan / The proper study of Mankind is Man."  In publishing this work, he turns a psychological exercise into an economical one.  He has produced literature that people must pay for.  This is much like modern day erotica sold at the bookstores, or, since we live in a visual society, communicating through visual images rather than words for the most part, it is very similar to easily obtained pornography today.

Because it's only since the invention of the camera (especially the Polaroid) and the television, that we have moved, resolutely, from communicating in print to a medium of visual images.  And while, in the past, only those who could read had access to erotic material, now anyone that can look and understand language has access to visual erotic imagery.  Thus, as Postman looks at in The Disappearance of Childhood, children now have as much access to sexual material as adults once did.  Thus the boundaries that were once set up by the church and by inaccessibility to information are now removed, and children can find out about sex at any age, as long as they can use the keyboard or operate the television remote.

When we talk about innuendo, double meanings, we immediately think of movies like Airplane!, whose jokes I am still getting even today.  Everytime I watch the movies, I find another joke that has, until now, gone beyond my understanding.  Also, there are no better masters of double meanings than the writers of modern day sit-com television shows.  Night Court, in the late 80's, was amazingly bawdy, humorous, and serious, all at the same time.  In both these examples, the writers worded the jokes so that children and teenagers would get one set of jokes, and the adults another, and so the whole family could watch a show that was sexual in nature, but the underlying meanings could only be received by those who could understand them. What is amazing about this idea is that the writers for some of the Disney Channels sit-coms are very much aware of the adult audience and incorporate sexual innuendo into the shows.   For example, on Phineas and Ferb, in the Spa episode, there is a scene of Buford sitting in the hot tub, and says "It's not plugged in!" as bubbles come up around him.  It's obvious that we are talking about farting in the hot tub, which is more a joke of bodily functions, but I don't think that most children would have caught on to it, as fast as the line was delivered. An even better example is on The Suite LIfe on Deck, season 3, ep. 1, "The Silent Treatment," where Cody, Zack, and Woody are in a secular monastery with Andy Richter guest starring.  Aside from the elongated "Little Dinghy" joke, there is a part where they speak during the silent hour, and are taken to the back room. When they come out, Cody says, "My Butt... talk about cruel and unusual punishment." Woody: "And for an hour!" Zack, who resolves the innuendo: "Forced to sit in those uncomfortable chairs and think about what we've done." To any adult, it is not sitting in chairs that has made their butts sore.  But children would not have gotten that line, as unstated as it was.

Disney is very controlling about any semblance of sexual tones in their shows.  Even to the point of avoiding swimwear in situations where it would be normal.  In the episodes that I have seen (which is near all of them), no major actor/tress on Hannah Montana or Suite LIfe has worn a bathing suit.  Hannah Montana takes place on a Malibu Beach, and yet Miley Cyrus has never worn a bikini or even a one-piece on the show.  Neither has Emily Osment.  Nor, to think of it, has Michell Musso, Moises Arias, or Jason Earles.  On The Suite Life on Deck, which takes place on a cruise ship, neither Debbie Ryan nor Brenda Song have worn bathing suits (outside of the Neptune Follies episode, where they were masked and in disguise), and the Sprouses also have remained covered up (even the Mermaid episode, where Dylan is in the hot tub, you can only see his shoulders.). It makes no sense that teenagers on a cruise ship would not wear bathing suits (or go shirtless). They even made special reference, on the Beauty Pageant episode, that they didn't have a swimsuit competition.

This control, I feel, is what makes the actresses (mainly) react so strongly when graduating from their company.  This is why Miley Cyrus has tried to flaunt her sexuality, following in the footsteps of Mouseketeer Britney Spears.  It is such a rebellion to run away from the control that Disney has on their employees.  Because in this case, sexuality and flaunting flesh is an expression of freedom, much as a child would rebel against a parent by dyeing their hair red or the like. Miley is simply a product of the rules that has forbid expression of one's own self for the creation of a family friendly, perfect role model that can be put on a television show to make money.  And because we live in a visual society, where we communicate through images, Miley can express her freedom through that medium, and everyone, including the children that have looked up to her, can see it.  It is the nature of the media that we use.   It is a paradox. On the one hand, we want to keep children as innocent and as unaware as possible until we are able to educate them using the values that we have coveted.  But also, we want to make money by influencing children into buying into a brand, be it Hannah Montana herself or the items that she sells when commercials come on.  So, in effect, we create the breakdown in childhood solely by the medium that we use to communicate.

I will want to continue this line of thought as I read Foucault work and expand the ideas to the modern day, just as I did Postman's ideas.  I think by deconstructing the reasons behind many of the beliefs that we have, we can see where they come from, who is controlling them, and who will benefit.  The discourse on sex is an important one, as it touches some of the most basic aspects of our lives, how we live, what we believe, and how we act in today's world.

(an addendum... when I tried to put Tags on this blog on my blogspot account, it won't let me use "Sex" as a tag. Seems there is some censorship in the world of the internet after all.)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Why Johnny Really Can't Drive

An interesting article caught my eye yesterday in the Atlanta Journal/Constitution.  It talked about new proposed legislation (that will never pass) dealing with restrictions for teenage drivers.  It basically increased the Learners Permit to age 16 for all states (right now it's state by state. This federal law would punish states for not adhering to the federal rules (by not giving them DOT money.)) It would also create new restrictions for drivers under 18, make it illegal to talk on cell phones and text while driving....etc.... The idea of safety is okay, although it should be common sense for all people to take safety precautions on the road.  I mean, it's either drive safely or die in an accident.  Of course, the Libertarian paradox applies here, in that there shouldn't be laws like this, but since most people don't use common sense (teenagers, drunk drivers, most everyone else), there has to be these laws passed.

But I got to thinking about some of the other reasons why new restrictions should be placed on younger drivers.  What economic benefits would come out of keeping young people from driving, and for whom?

The free market system works in a peculiar fashion.  It markets its goods, the video games and the latest in fashion apparel, to the younger generation.  The mall is filled with clothing and doodads that every teenager would love to own, to relish in flashiness and superficial popularity through materialism (this comes from one who would just as soon wear velcro shoes).  But times are changing now. Not everyone has money.  And fewer people are getting credit cards because the banks just can't give credit to every college grad and young whippersnapper that comes along.  And so sales go down, business go under, and unemployment rises.  So how do you go about fixing the problem, or at least, and this is important, the perception of the problem. 

Lets say that the unemployment number for Georgia is 10%.  (Now, that really is probably low, because that number is already tampered with.) And so people are out looking for jobs.  People that have college degrees would just as well find a job at the local grocery store as the place where they actually have degrees (because they're not hiring, probably).  So we have people who are experienced and educated competing with those who are still in high school for jobs.  And those in high school are looking for jobs, too.  So we naturally have to get rid of some of the people so that one group (the ones who are older, probably more mature, and more likely to pay their bills and support political candidates since they are happy to have at least some job) can actually find employment.  At this point, the employment rate goes down, because the high schoolers cannot find jobs, and the ones with education now have them.  You do this by making it so that high schoolers can't drive without many more restrictions.  It becomes harder for them to have transportation to and from work.  Thus, since they can't get a job, they can't spend money (which they don't have) and they can't vote at all, so it won't matter to those in Washington. 

But of course, this idea doesn't fly without a hitch.  Yes, I know that they will make exceptions for teenagers driving to and from work and school.  But since I'm looking at theories here, I'm overlooking that.  Also, there are the advertisers who are still marketing wares to those in high school, and without money.  They really have very few options to get what they need.  They can get money from their parents (who are probably struggling for cash, as well), or they could mow lawns, or some other menial job.  They could also, of course, make money by selling drugs, stolen prescription drugs, or by stealing those things that they want from the stores and either selling them or keeping them.  They have the time, since they have no jobs, and they have the ability to sell things via the internet to whomever might want them.  So without transportation for those in high school, the job market is affected (which is what they wanted) and the crime rate increases (which is what they don't want.) 

So yes, keeping teenagers from driving does help decrease the mortality rates for automobile accidents, so the congresspeople can all get around with the parents of fatal crash victims, and sign their laws, but it has unfortunate and very much intended consequences.  In the end, and this is a blanketed statement, but it works for me, that Johnny can't drive because Johnny can't vote.