Swap piano playing for check-ups, or fish for hooch

Here are two videos I made that are seemingly unrelated, but which have a common thread: bartering.

The first is a look at George Washington’s actual bookkeeping ledger, which shows that much of his business was conducted through swap. Like: He sold fish to get ingredients for whiskey! The second is about a hospital in Brooklyn that allows broke artists to trade their talents for health care (check out the original Keith Haring mural in the video!).

We shot the hospital one after the ledger one, but I realized that my trip to Mount Vernon had yielded a fascinating tidbit that was a perfect closer to it. So Washington’s balance sheet makes a double appearance. I’m a history nerd, so any chance to show off a wicked cool old document titillates me.

A few months ago, Nevada Republican Sue Lowder earned mockery for suggesting Americans might be able to barter for their health care. Yes, that’s no longer a workable system in our non-agrarian economy, but here’s proof that it was once the norm — and it can still work. So there.

trade their talents for health care.