The problem with low-hanging fruit

Low-hanging fruit started as an agricultural phrase literally referring to fruit that grew on the lower branch spurs of a fruit tree. This fruit is never the best fruit because it gets far less sunlight than the fruit at the top of the tree causing it to ripen slower. Not to mention if you were, say an apple picker and you started your climb picking the low hanging fruit first, by the time you made it to the top you would not have room to pick and store the good fruit.

This is not a blog about fruit picking but I needed to give you this info first. There is a major problem with this concept in our society.

Low-hanging fruit started in publications as a term in the late 60s. It was not picked up by mainstream media until the 90s where for some reason everyone started using the phrase — the business world especially and it was considered a good thing.

By definition it means: a thing or person that can be won, obtained or persuaded with little effort. So in business they teach the new sales guy to “cut his teeth” on the low-hanging fruit or the easiest to persuade. New businesses jump into an industry grabbing the low-hanging fruit and if you wanted to develop a new territory, you guessed it, you go for the low-hanging fruit.

The problem stems from trying to apply this phrase to problem solving in our society.

During the war on drugs in the 80s, President Ronald Reagan never went after the suppliers of the drugs. Afterall it was his wife Nancy that started the “just say no” campaign. The drugs were being brought to this country in planes and ships. Well who would allow drugs on their planes or ships? Instead of going after the ones who brought the drugs into our country, we went for the “low-hanging fruit” and that was the drug dealers and the runners on the streets. They were easy targets and it would look like we were doing something to stop drug use.

These petty crimes created a revolving door for felons and greatly effected the poorer neighborhoods in our country. So putting a bunch of poor, downtrodden dummies in prison for drugs was going to stop drug use in our country? Yeah right!

Then in the 90s, Congress gave president Bill Clinton more money to give to police agencies and built more prisons for the purpose of locking up more “bad guys”. But the plan still never touched the owners of the planes and ships which brought the drugs into our country. It simply destroyed poor minority families by incarcerating the heads of those households who owned no planes nor ships but sold product on the street and ran little ghetto cartels in the hood. This led to more than 2.3 million Black people in prison with excessive sentences of 20 years and more because they were considered “low-hanging fruit” and rich people needed to feel safe from the minority boogeyman. This has solved nothing as far as drugs go in this country in fact the problem is far worse.

Look at all our countries problems and you will see our approach to solving these problems is to start with “low-hanging fruit” which really means we are not even going to address the real problem.

Human trafficking is a hot button now and we have come up with a solution to fix this problem: For human sex trafficking which greatly effects our young runaway girls and young women being brought into this country for this purpose — some as young as 12 — we are arresting the “Johns” instead of going after the people who are recruiting these girls into this lifestyle. So we are switching one victim (the young girls) and creating a new victim (the Johns) and this solution does not even make a dent in stopping sex trafficking. What it does is shame the user, shame his family, tears apart his already troubled marriage (wife doesn’t want to stay with husband who is out in the streets participating in sex acts), and innocent kids suffer.

Consider how we treat cancer, obesity, healthcare, wars, poverty, and homelessness in our country — all with this low-hanging fruit concept.

My point: Low-hanging fruit stops nothing! Climb to the top of the damn tree and get the best fruit — it’s better for all of us.