Ok, I tend to be a bit of a reductionist. So, this will be reductionistic.
What I see is we in the US tend to really like punishment. That seems to be the first tool we jump to. People speeding? Punish! People misbehaving? Punish! People addicted to drugs? Punish! People doing things we don't like? PUNISH!!!
At times, this seems to be the only tool in the toolbox! No matter what, we need to jump to punishment. And frankly, in my opinion, punishment is the most lazy way of dealing with anything. All we have to do is look. Does punishment stop speeding? It slows people down when the cops are around. And it slows some people down. But it really seems to have minimal effect.
I know that speeding is just one example, but when we think about it, punishment really doesn't work. When we punish children, all we end up teaching them is how to be more sneaky.
I learned that behavior is results driven. We change behavior, not by punishing it, but by making it easier to get the desired result. When we punish the behavior, we only stop the behavior while the punishing force it present. But when we find ways to fulfill the needs that cause the behavior, we can make positive, durable change.
Another assumption of punishment is if we punish the behavior, people will just come up with alternate, positive, behaviors.
This just shows a lack of social awareness. What might be an "appropriate" behavior in my community may be deemed "inappropriate" in another community. To punish someone for something that we assume, "Everyone should know that," does not help the situation. We need to look at ways to teach people to prosper.
I look at the vitriol I hear about people receiving welfare. "They should get a job!" Removing the welfare (punishing) will not teach the person to have better job-hunting skills. The assumption is the person is lazy and we need to punish the person to make the person less lazy. When I look at many of the GOP (Sorry, not meaning to attack) arguments, they have at their base the concept of punishment/reward. "You are not doing the right thing, therefore you are being punished. I am doing the right thing, therefore I am being rewarded." The problem is that what is punished and what is rewarded has never been specified.
Kind of haphazard. Sorry. Just thoughts in process.