By Patrick Curran on Feb 05, 2006
Some standards are so important that the state takes responsibility for enforcing them. From the earliest times the value and integrity of the currency has been one such standard. When circulating currency consisted of coins minted from precious metals it was constantly in danger of debasement. Since "bad money drives out good", the consequences could be severe.
In late 17th century England "clipping and counterfeiting emerged as serious threats to England’s commercial base and its bid to become a global power". The state responded by imposing the death penalty for these offences. Sir Isaac Newton was appointed Master of the Royal Mint with responsibility for the detection, capture, and prosecution of offenders against the currency, a task he performed "with great vigor and success" (see The Death Penalty as Monetary Policy). For a fictional account of these events see Dark Matter.
Perhaps there's a lesson to be learned from this?