Is there a way/setting within SharePoint 2007/10 to prevent newly created sites/pages/etc... from inheriting permissions by default?
Basically I want to create a new "whatever" with a clean slate... no permissions or access.
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No. If you are manually creating a site then the parent site permissions will be inherited by default. You will have to manually break inheritance in Site Permission Settings.
However, if you are creating a site programmatically then you can use SPWeb.BreakRoleInheritance(true) method to break inheritance.