The Effects Corporatocracy Has in Government


The Effects Corporatocracy Has in Government

Corporatocracy occurs when a government is found to be run not by its own people, but by corporations or conglomerates within the country. The mixture of business and government allows corporations to control a country by deciding its governmental direction or economic plans (Mooney, Knox, and Schacht 256). Whether a corporation involves itself in a country’s government for the good of its people or its profits, corporatocracy effects all involved, from employees and citizens to government and business. It is not uncommon for there to be a blurred line between government and business, but it is unfortunately a line that is all too often crossed.

Perhaps one of the strongest and most notable displays of corporatocracy in America was that of General Motors. In 1987, GM produced a solar powered car named Sun Raycer which won the first World Solar Challenge, hosted by Australia. Shortly after winning this race, GM requested its engineers to create an electric car that would be an environmentally friendly alternative to the gasoline powered vehicles that already existed on the road. GM introduced its version of the electric car at a car show in the mid-1990s, the first of its kind in almost a century. While the electric car had been made before, it had been long out of existence due to the cost of oil being less than that of elements needed to maintain the electric car. When GM created the EV1 in the 1990s, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) responded positively to the car. Not long before the EV1 was released, CARB then mandated that seven of the major car manufacturers must produce and sell a similar zero-emissions product in order to sell any of their products in the state of California (Paine).

After production, GM found that the EV1 was not as profitable as expected. Though it had a limitless supply of eager customers, the product was unprofitable because its parts were more durable, more reliable, and did not need oil or gasoline directly in order for it to operate. Consumers were able to rely on one charge to go up to 120 miles, which was often more than one person needed in one day. At the end of the night, the customer was able to charge their vehicle at home. The electric car offered a sense of ease that the gasoline powered vehicle did not: the constant purchase of gasoline at gas stations. This made the electric car unprofitable to oil companies. GM noticed this issue, and went to court along with other car companies and California dealerships to fight against CARB in order to reverse profit damage done by the new California mandate. In 2003, it was finally decided that the production of extremely low emission, natural gas, and hybrid vehicles could take the place of the electric car on the car dealership sales floor (Paine). However, the strategies that GM and other car manufacturers took to get to that compromise was uncalled for.

GM and other car companies fought against CARB in order to destroy the electric car and continue their growing profits that gasoline operated cars provided. Because CARB had released the zero-emissions mandate before GM had distributed their product to their sales floors, GM decided that instead of allowing customers to purchase their electronic vehicle, they would only allow a lease. It is often thought that GM provided the lease as a way to comply with CARB requests, but only temporarily. Once they were able to eliminate the zero-emissions mandate, GM repossessed the vehicles, transported them to their headquarters in Arizona, and had the vehicles destroyed. Other car companies repeated these actions; Toyota went as far as to shred their vehicle, the Th!nk (Paine).

The only way that the car companies would agree with the many requests that protestors and potential customers had would be if they saw a high enough demand for their electronic vehicles. GM stated that the process to create an electric vehicle was expensive, and it would have to have enough customers first. Upon denial of many requests, a group of protestors finally provided proof that four thousand consumers were wanting and willing to purchase the vehicle. When calling these customers, GM representatives attempted to persuade the customers to purchase other vehicles by stating the limitations that the vehicle had. Though only GM knows for sure, it has been stated that their list dwindled from the four thousand to only fifty customers because of their persuasive sales pitch (Paine).

When advertising on television, GM did not convey the message of freedom, coolness, or sexiness that is often portrayed in vehicle advertisements. Instead, GM decided to market the EV1 in an almost intimidating manner, using bleak color, abstract editing, and vague imagery of the EV1 itself. Instead of advertising to catch the attention of potential customers, GM did almost the exact opposite. The message was clear: GM did not want any more customers to purchase the EV1 (Paine).

GM, oil companies, and other car manufacturers succeeded in eliminating the CARB mandate and gaining the federal governments joint efforts to eliminate the electric car. However, America did make a slight success by the entire process. The creation of the EV1 allowed Americans to understand the issues involved with gasoline powered cars and how to make more green decisions. In agreement with the decision made between the car manufacturers and CARB, extremely low-emission, natural gas, and hybrid were created. In recent months, cars advertising the use of electricity once again have been introduced.

In his book, “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man,” John Perkins discusses the role of the Economic Hit Man (EHM) in the federal government. The EHM is used as a contracted person of a government agency such as the CIA or NSA, so that in the case that the person is caught completing their government assigned tasks, their life will be on the line rather than that of the United States government. Such examples could include funneling money from the World Bank or removing a person of interest from office. Overall, Perkins says the message was obvious: The EHM is not working for the lives of Americans through the government. Rather, they are working for corporations or wealthy families, to ensure that they are economically secure (Perkins).

Perhaps the destruction of the EV1 and other electric cars was for the better. It could be argued that the car companies were protecting the jobs of many. Allowing the growth of the electric car could have put gasoline companies out of business, which could result in a large percentage of unemployment throughout the country. It could also be argued that the advertising that GM created for the EV1 was not intentionally scary, but rather, the lack of information about the product being advertised was merely to entice people to inquire more instead of less. Many of the car companies, including GM, also argue that they did not destruct their vehicles, but recycled the parts.

The most damning evidence that GM and the other car manufacturers have against them is the destruction of the CARB mandate. Had it not been for the demolition of this, the presence of corporatocracy would not be quite as noticeable. It would not be difficult to say that the emissions that are being created are causing damage to this earth, and it is only so long that it may be able to take it. GM and other car manufacturers have created a great product, the electric car, only to destroy it just as quickly when they realized that its profit was not as great as expected. When the state government of California became involved, requiring seven of the large manufacturers to produce zero emission vehicles to sell on their sales floor, manufacturers pushed back. The manufacturers not only eliminated California’s mandate, but involved the federal government’s support as well. The pure power that GM has over American government was enough to dispose of a law that tampered with its profit margin. America should be concerned about the amount of power that corporations are able to have on their government and their economy.


Mooney, L.A., David Knox, and Caronline Schacht. Understanding Social Problems. 6th.

Belmont, California: Cengage, 2009. 256. Print.

Perkins, John. Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. San Francisco, California: Berrett-Koehler

Publishers, Inc., 2004. Print.

Paine, Christopher. Who Killed the Electric Car? Dir. Paine, Christopher. Perf. Sheen, Martin.

Sony: 2006, Film.

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