There is an interesting article in Scientific American which argues that punishing cheaters produces evolutionary pressures toward cooperation:
Humans are one of the most cooperative species on the planet. Our ability to coordinate behavior and work collaboratively with others has allowed us to create the natural world’s largest and most densely populated societies, outside of deep sea microbial mats and a few Hymenoptera mega-colonies.
However, a key problem when trying to understand the evolution of cooperation has been the issue of cheaters. Individuals in a social group, whether that group is composed of bacteria, cichlids, chimpanzees, or people, often benefit when cooperating with others who reciprocate the favor. But what about those individuals who take advantage of the generosity of others and provide nothing in return? These individuals could well thrive thanks to the group as a whole and end up with greater fitness than everyone else because they didn’t have to pay the costs associated with cooperating. For decades the idea that cheaters may in fact prosper has been the greatest difficulty in understanding cooperation as an evolved trait.
However, it turns out that cooperation could be a viable evolutionary strategy when individuals within the group collectively punish cheaters who don’t pull their weight. For example, Robert Boyd, Herbert Gintis, and Samuel Bowles published a paper in the journal Science in 2010 with a model showing how, so long as enough individuals work together to punish violators, each cooperative individual in the group can experience enhanced fitness as a result.
This is why, “Looking forward and not back,” is so harmful to society.
Whether it’s the torture by the Bush administration (or for that matter by the Obama administration) and the misdeeds of the banksters must be prosecuted to the fullest extant of the law.
In failing to do this, Obama and Holder are, whether they realize it or not, are actively selecting for corruption and fraud.