Big Government vs. Small is an argument with a long history. One of the oldest known debates on that theme was the dispute between Confucians and Legalists in ancient China. The focus of their debate was the government monopoly on salt and iron, which generated most governmental revenue. This debate continued for a couple of millennia, with periodic triumph's of the Legalists (who used the monopoly and its effective tax to fund the great wall and it's defense) and the Confucians who dropped the tax only to see barbarians overrun the country.
Adapted from Mark Kurlansky's wonderful book Salt: A World History.