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The Last Mayan Kingdom Falls

The Spaniards have colonies established in the Yucatan region and Guatemala. Sitting in between are the Itza Mayans of the Petén Lakes region. The Spaniards want to build a road to join the two colonies, but back in the 1620s the Itza had cut the hearts out of various missionaries and Spanish soldiers. No one was going into the region now without a plan. The plan began with attempts to negotiate a deal, but after two years of talks, the gloves are coming off. 235 Spanish solders backed by 120 native Indians move on Tayasal, the island capital of the Itza kingdom. The Mayans have painted the city a bright white so the Spaniards can't miss it. The Mayans hastily build fortifications but it will not be enough. The Spaniards bombard the city with cannon fire. The loss of life is horrific. A Spanish attack boat makes its way across the lake and the Spaniards take the island. The last independent kingdom of the Mayans has fallen but the fight is not over yet. In 1704 the Itza Mayans will attempt a rebellion. Their efforts will end in bloody failure. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
There is a temptation to paint the Spaniards as jerks for beating up on the helpless Mayans, but let's put this in perspective. The Spaniards weren't going away. While the Mayans could claim a right to be left alone, the way they reacted to the Spaniards made it clear that the Mayans would not honor any agreement they might make and they were too dangerous to be left to their own devices. The problem had to be addressed and that meant diplomacy by other means... the military option. In modern times the Mayans remain a distinct group in Guatemala and the descendants of the Spaniards look down on them. This has led to abuse and continued fighting between the two groups. I'm not sure how they could have worked something out back in 1697, but it is clear in modern times that the descendants of the Mayans are getting the short end of the stick from the descendants of the Spaniards. [6] [7]

Daniel Defoe Proposes a Wealth Tax *

Daniel Defoe is best known for his book, "Robinson Crusoe" which will be published in 1719, but his first book is published this year. It is a series of essays, many of them brilliant, giving advice to the King and Parliament on how to solve various sticky problems such as the disparity of taxes being paid by the poor and the rich. For example, there is a tax on alcoholic beverages. The poor laborer spends his meager wages on drink which is taxed. The tax represents a large portion of a poor man's wages. A rich man likes beer as much as any poor man, but he can avoid paying the tax by brewing his own. He has the facilities, the materials and the time to do so and thus a rich man's contribution to the tax base is less than that of a poor man. Daniel's solution sounds like an income tax, but in fact it is a tax on accumulated wealth. He proposes a commission and inspectors to assess a person's wealth and tax him accordingly. Daniel will find favor under King William the 3rd, but years later he will write a satirical piece that will offend Parliament. Daniel will be pilloried and sent to prison. His experiences as a prisoner will show up in his future writings such as the poem "Hymn to the Pillory". [8] [9]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
In the United States we have an income tax but not a wealth tax. Thus, when Warren Buffet complains that his secretary has a higher income tax rate (35.8%) than he does, he is correct. He makes very little in salary and he has long-term investments where he pays a capital gains tax. That is a different tax with a lower rate. So when you hear him say that he and his fellow investors are not paying their fair-share in taxes, watch out. Buffet is big. He can take a big tax hit and survive, but his competitors might not survive. It is like standing in a swimming pool as the water rises. If you can't tread water, only the tallest people in the pool survive. Then the tallest people can rightfully point out how many short people are drowning, and the Congress... oh... I mean the pool manager will lower the water, leaving the tallest people with the pool all to themselves. And there is a second slight of hand going on here. Buffet brings in more income through capital gains than his secretary brings in through salary so there is more income to tax even at a lower rate. This was why when President Ronald Reagan lowered tax rates the actual tax money collected went up, not down. A smaller tax paid frequently and fairly produces more tax revenue than, for example, a supertax on luxury yachts. A yacht tax puts a lot of ship builders out of business and tax revenues go down. [10] [11]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1697, Wikipedia.

See Also


* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. Grun, Bernard. The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. Simon and Schuster, 318-319. “Last remains of Maya civilization destroyed by Spanish in Yucatan” 
  2. Grant D. Jones; Don S. Rice; Prudence M. Rice (July 1981). "The Location of Tayasal: A Reconsideration in Light of Peten Maya Ethnohistory and Archaeology". American Antiquity (Society for American Archaeology) 46 (3): 530-547. http://www.jstor.org/stable/280599. Retrieved December 18, 2015. 
  3. Spanish conquest of Petén - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 18 December 2015. “The conquest of Petén, a region now incorporated into the modern republic of Guatemala, climaxed in 1697 with the capture of Nojpetén, the island capital of the Itza kingdom, by Martín de Ursúa y Arizmendi. With the defeat of the Itza, the last independent and unconquered native kingdom in the Americas fell to the European colonisers.”
  4. Itza people - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 18 December 2015. “The Itza are a Guatemalan people of Maya affiliation.”
  5. (1998) The Conquest of the Last Maya Kingdom - Grant D. Jones - Google Books. Stanford University Press. Retrieved on 18 December 2015. “The capture of Nojpeten climaxed more than two years of preparation by the Spaniards, after efforts by the military forces and Franciscan missionaries to negotiate a peaceful surrender with the Itzas had been rejected by the Itza ruling council and its ruler Ajaw Kan Ek. The conquest, far from being final, initiated years of continued struggle between Yucatecan and Guatemalan Spaniards and native Maya groups for control over the surrounding forests. Despite protracted resistance from the native inhabitants, thousands of them were forced to move into mission towns, though in 1704 the Mayas staged an abortive and bloody rebellion that threatened to recapture Nojpeten from the Spaniards.” 
  6. Minorities-At-Risk - Data - Assessment for Indigenous Peoples in Guatemala. cidcm.umd.edu (2015). Retrieved on 18 December 2015. “The majority of indigenous peoples in Guatemala are of Mayan descent and are dispersed throughout the country with the largest populations in rural departments north and west of Guatemala City, most notably Quiché, Alta Verapaz, Sololá, Totonicapán, Quetzaltenango and Huehuetengango. They are identified by language, with Quiche, Cakchiquel, Mam (Maya), Tzutujil, Achi, and Pokoman being the most common of the approximately 26 indigenous languages spoken. As colonists and other foreign entities took control of lands held communally prior to colonization, indigenous groups moved to smaller land plots in higher elevations and were subject to indentured labor on foreign-held lands in the encomienda land system. Over time, the decreasing size of their land plots has forced indigenous Guatemalans into wage labor on non-indigenous owned lands. Today, less than one percent of agricultural producers control 75 percent of the best land in Guatemala. Indigenous peoples find wage labor through seasonal migration.”
  7. Alex Shrugged notes: My friend's daughter works with the native Indians in Mexico and Central America. I don't know if she would agree with my viewpoint, but clearly she was treated poorly by Castillian Spanish descendants simply because she worked with the Indians. (FYI, I am a descendant of Castillian Spaniards. I hold no animus toward the Indians, but I am aware that others do.)
  8. Daniel Defoe Biography. Cliffs Notes (2015). Retrieved on 18 December 2015. “His first book, An Essay Upon Projects, was published in 1698. It set forth his views on road building and maintenance, labor, banks, insurance, income tax, friendly societies, asylums for idiots, academies, and schools for women.”
  9. (1887) An Essay Upon Projects. Cassell & Company, Limited. Retrieved on 17 December 2015. “If I were to be asked how I would remedy this, I would answer, it should be by some method in which every man may be taxed in the due proportion to his estate, and the Act put in execution, according to the true intent and meaning of it, in order to which a commission of assessment should be granted to twelve men, such as his Majesty should be well satisfied of, who should go through the whole kingdom, three in a body, and should make a new assessment of personal estates, not to meddle with land.” 
  10. Buffett says he's still paying lower tax rate than his secretary. money.cnn.com (March 4, 2013). Retrieved on 18 December 2015. “Buffett has been advocating for a minimum tax on top wage earners -- those like himself who benefit from the fact that capital gains are taxed at a lower rate than regular earnings.”
  11. How Rich Is Warren Buffett's Secretary? - The Atlantic. theatlantic.com (2015). Retrieved on 18 December 2015. “Thanks to ABC, we now have a number on the difference between Warren Buffett's tax rate, and his secretary's. According to the network, 'Bosanek pays a tax rate of 35.8 percent of income, while Buffett pays a rate at 17.4 percent.'”

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