So often people in this field -- new and old -- wonder how we got into this mess, but instead of researching why or how, they just start slathering the blame at whatever is currently hot and trendy to bash. Typically Microsoft.
Knowing the history of HTML, why it exists, what it is for, etc, etc is one of the most important parts of grasping the "why" of it all. It gets you over certain mental hurdles -- and more importantly impediments placed by greed and ignorance -- that you might otherwise not see a way past.
And if nothing else, as the saying goes "those who forget history are doomed to repeat it."
See how so much of HTML 5 and the current course of the W3C is repeating the disaster of mid '90's to early '00's presentational markup and undoing 20 years of actual progress.