Displaying a staggering ignorance of basic supply and demand, the Mayans simply failed to recognize the economic boon built-in obsolescence provides a civilization.
(YUCATAN PENINSULA – 8th and 9th Baktun) – Exhibiting a mistake common to all emerging technological civilizations, the Mayans labored under the misconception that if you are going to build something, you should build it right, and build it to last.
One pathetic example of their inability to cash in on planned obsolescence is their calendar system. Rather than make a calendar that would simply last a short time and then need to be replaced, they used several calendars which are more or less permanent. The most egregious example is the so-called long count calendar. This calendar literally runs for a period of 144,000 days, or one b’ak’tun. Come on! a product life-cycle of 144,000 days?? But wait, after 144,000 days, you simply start over at the next Baktun. So, even today, were an enterprising young Mayan business man or woman going to capitalize on the coming end of the 13th Baktun (late next year), the astute consumer would simply say “No thanks, I, and my progeny, will just reuse this calendar for the 14th Baktun.”
"OH MY GAWD!! When the 144,000th sand particle passes we're all going to die!" - Dorothy Gale
As a side note, our civilization is marked by astute opportunists that recognize the profit potential of hysteria – even a thinly disguised retread of the Y2K hysteria. Late next year the 144,000th day of the 13th baktun of the Long Cycle will be reached. Since the long count calendar is incomprehensibly long, the only logical explanation for the coming end of the 13th baktun is the End Of Days, the Apocalypse, the END OF THE WORLD, right?
Ermm – no. The significance of this day is equal to the significance of the 31st day of December on a modern calendar, i.e., a time of celebration as we reach the end of one counting cycle followed immediately by the beginning of another.
Since the classic period of the Maya (the 8th and 9th baktun or 250 to 900 AD) the universe has come to an apocalyptic end three times. Oh, you hadn’t noticed?
This is another example of the Mayans simply not getting it. Why have a giant (money-making) Happy New Baktun celebration every 394.25 tropical years when you can have a Happy New Year celebration every 365 days?
The Mayans could not maintain any kind of economy to speak of due to the fact that once they built something it never needed replacing. After a period of phenomenal growth where everything they made was a “got-to-have” item, the market saturated, calendar factories and temple construction companies went out of business, and hundreds of thousands of workers were put out in the street.
Add to this the collapse of the hospitality industry due to the fact that nearly 400 years is simply too long between parties and you can see that the Mayans succumbed to a devastating ennui and simply faded into obscurity.