Friday, December 18, 2015

History: The Year is 1697

I've uploaded year 1697 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

The Last Mayan Kingdom Falls -- The Spaniards are done trying to negotiate. The gloves are coming off and the last Mayan Kingdom is going down.

Daniel Defoe Proposes a Wealth Tax -- The guy who wrote Robinson Caruso was a prolific writer before that. He has produced a series of essays including one suggesting a tax on personal wealth.


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 Caruso" 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.

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