The president of the Club for Growth, Chris Chocola, has an op-ed in USA Today about the death tax: "Does the money you earn over the course of your life belong to you, or does it really belong to the government, which generously allows you to keep some of it for a while?"
In the Wall Street Journal, Daniel Henninger has a column asking, "What Are Taxes For?" He suggests framing the question this way: "What balance between the private and public economies will best allow the U.S. to remain the world's pre-eminent economic (and military) power for the next generation?" I like Mr. Henninger and his column, but to my taste, that formulation is problematic, or at least unattractive, because it puts the nation ahead of the individual. To me American preeminent military power isn't the starting point — the starting point is individual freedom. The military and tax policy follow from that. Assume for a moment that a command-and-control economy or a benevolent dictatorship were necessary for the U.S. to remain the world's pre-eminent economic (and military) power for the next generation. I'd rather have a less rich and and less militarily powerful America that is more free. Luckily, this is pretty much a hypothetical, because in most cases, individual freedom contributes to economic and military power. I say all this as someone who considers himself to be a patriotic American, but one of the reasons I am one is that the country's founding documents — the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution with the Bill of Rights — see the government as something that exists to protect the rights of the individual, rather than the individual as someone whose property exists to assure the nation's economic or military supremacy. The whole discussion starts getting into the rift between a utilitarian defense of free markets and a libertarian one. They aren't necessarily mutually exclusive, but they don't always entirely overlap, either.