Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Great Conspiracy debunker dies, RIP

Retired UCLA economist--Phd; U of Chicago--George Hilton has recently passed away. While all this, from an obituary is true;
Born in 1925, Hilton graduated with an A.B., summa cum laude, from Dartmouth College in 1946, and earned an M.A. in 1950. He attended the London School of Economics from 1953 to 1955 and earned his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1956. He was professor of economics at the University of California, Los Angeles, until his retirement.Hilton specialized in transportation economics. He practically identified himself with competitive organization of the railroads and prided himself on his contribution to the abolition of the Interstate Commerce Commission.
....He wanted to be remembered best for his works on transportation history. Of his fifteen books and countless articles, many were on transportation history. Many of these are considered the definitive work on their particular subject: The Great Lakes Car Ferries, The Cable Car in America, The Ma & Pa, Eastland, Legacy of the Titanic, American Narrow Gauge Railroads, and Lake Michigan Passenger Steamers. In 2008 he received the Samuel Ward Stanton Award from the Steamship Historical Society of America for scholarship in steam navigation.
He is known to HSIB for his role in debunking Bradford Snell's Great Conspiracy to Destroy the Streetcars. Not that Wikipedia is the wiser for Professor Hilton's contributions during the 1974 hearing by the Subcommittee on Antitrust and Monopoly of the Senate Judiciary Committee (beginning on page 2204). In which, Hilton (justifiably) ridicules the simple-mindedness of Snell's claims;
I would argue that [Snell's] interpretations [of historical facts] are not correct, and, further, that they couldn't possibly be correct, because major conversions in society of this character--from rail to free wheel urban transportation, and from steam to diesel railroad propulsion--are the sort of conversions which could come about only as a result of public preferences, technological change, the relative abundance of natural resources, and other impersonal phenomena or influence rather than the machinations of a monopolist.
....The relation between the transit industry and the demand for automobile in the report is one so completely oversimplified that it is diff[icult] to take seriously.
Unless you're an anti-capitalist conspiracy monger, that is.

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