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The Ezra Klein Show

The Ezra Klein Show

*** Named a best podcast of 2021 by Time, Vulture and Esquire. *** Each Tuesday and Friday, Ezra Klein invites you into a conversation on something that matters. How do we address climate change if the political system fails to act? Has the logic of markets infiltrated too many aspects of our lives? What is the future of the Republican Party? What do psychedelics teach us about consciousness? What does sci-fi understand about our present that we miss? Can our food system be just to humans and animals alike?

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Episodes

Long Covid and the Blind Spots of American Medicine

One of the most frightening, least understood aspects of the coronavirus pandemic is what?s come to be known as ?long Covid.? Stories abound of young, healthy adults who experienced mild or asymptomatic coronavirus infections and recovered fairly quickly, only to experience an onset of debilitating symptoms weeks or even months later. One major study of almost two million Covid patients in the United States found that nearly a quarter sought medical treatment for new conditions one month or more after their initial infection.

Scientists still don?t fully understand what?s causing long Covid or how to best treat it. But in that sense, long Covid isn?t all that novel. Today, millions of Americans suffer from chronic illnesses set off by the body?s response to infections. Many of these conditions routinely go undiagnosed or are misdiagnosed. And even those who find their conditions identified correctly often struggle to find treatments that work for them.

?To have a poorly understood disease,? writes Meghan O?Rourke, ?is to be brought up against every flaw in the U.S. health care system; to collide with the structural problems of a late-capitalist society that values productivity more than health; and to confront the philosophical problem of conveying an experience that lacks an accepted framework.?

O?Rourke, an award-winning journalist and poet and the editor of The Yale Review, has spent more than a decade of her life struggling with chronic illness, a journey she documents in her forthcoming book, ?The Invisible Kingdom: Reimagining Chronic Illness.? In it, O?Rourke uses her experience to illuminate the facets of American society that often remain invisible to the rest of us: the blind spots in our scientific and medical paradigms, the shortcomings of our individualistic ethos, the way economic inequalities show up in our bodies, our culture?s tendency to pathologize suffering.

So this conversation begins with long Covid and the debates surrounding it, which O?Rourke has done excellent reporting and writing on. But it is also about what it?s like to experience America?s hidden chronic illness epidemic firsthand, and what that epidemic reveals about the society that too often pretends it doesn?t exist.

Mentioned:

?Long-Haulers Are Fighting for Their Future? by Ed Yong

?Lyme Disease Is Baffling, Even to Experts? by Meghan O?Rourke

?Unlocking the Mysteries of Long Covid? by Meghan O?Rourke

The Deep Places: A Memoir of Illness and Discovery by Ross Douthat

Book Recommendations:

The Journal of a Disappointed Man by W.N.P. Barbellion

On Immunity by Eula Biss

The Cancer Journals by Audre Lorde

This episode is guest-hosted by Ross Douthat, a New York Times columnist whose work focuses on politics, conservatism, religion and, more recently, chronic illness. He is also the author of numerous books, including ?The Deep Places? and ?The Decadent Society.? You can read his work here and follow him on Twitter @DouthatNYT (Learn more about the other guest hosts during Ezra?s parental leave here.)

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein. Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected]

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Mary Marge Locker and Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld, audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

2021-10-26
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What Keeping American Democracy Alive Looks Like

In the wake of the ?Stop the Steal? campaign, the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and the wave of voter suppression bills making their way through Republican legislatures across the country, the struggle for American democracy feels, for many, visceral and even existential. But for Martha S. Jones, a legal and cultural historian at Johns Hopkins University, the moment we find ourselves in is anything but an aberration.

?I?m not someone who tells stories about a Whiggish arc in which we are always getting better, doing better, improving upon,? Jones says. ?Much of American history is a story about contest, about conflict, about disagreement over fundamental ideas and fundamental precepts, fundamental principles, like citizenship and voting rights.?

Jones has spent her career documenting the contestation over American democracy. Her 2018 book, ?Birthright Citizens,? tells the story of how Black Americans in the 19th century fought to address the Constitution?s silence on the question of who counts as a citizen, ultimately securing the establishment of birthright citizenship through the 14th Amendment. And her 2020 book ?Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All? is a sweeping account of Black women?s 200-year fight for equal suffrage.

This conversation is about how the political struggles waged by marginalized groups have forged American democracy as we know it ? and the virtues, habits and practices of democratic citizenship we can glean from those struggles. But it also explores the need to reimagine America?s true ?founders,? how 19th- and 20th-century Black women were modeling intersectionality long before it became a buzzword, what current discussion around ?Black women voters? gets wrong, how worried we should be about current threats to American democracy and much more.

Mentioned:

A Voice from the South by Anna J. Cooper

Book recommendations:

All That She Carried by Tiya Miles

The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

Thick by Tressie McMillan Cottom

This episode is guest-hosted by Jamelle Bouie, a New York Times columnist whose work focuses on the intersection of politics and history. Before joining The Times in 2019, he was the chief political correspondent for Slate magazine. You can read his work here and follow him on Twitter @jbouie. (Learn more about the other guest hosts during Ezra?s parental leave here.)

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of ?The Ezra Klein Show? at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein. Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected]

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Mary Marge Locker and Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld, audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

2021-10-22
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The Story of America's Founding You Weren?t Taught in School

There are few periods of U.S. history that are as vigorously debated, as emotionally and civically charged as the American Revolution. And for good reason: How Americans interpret that period ? its heroes, its villains, its legacy ? shapes how we understand our social foundations, our national identity, our shared political project.

Woody Holton is a historian at the University of South Carolina, a leading scholar of America?s founding and the author of numerous books on the period, including, most recently, ?Liberty Is Sweet: The Hidden History of the American Revolution.?

Holton?s work presents a fundamental challenge to the version of the American Revolution that most of us were taught in grade school. In his telling, America?s ?founding fathers? were far less central to the country?s founding than we imagine. Class conflict was just as important a cause of the Revolution as aspirational ideals, if not more. And the way Holton sees things, the American Constitution was a fundamentally capitalist document designed to rein in democracy, not expand it.

But Holton?s work shouldn?t be understood solely as a revisionist account of a particular era in history. It also provides a unique lens for rethinking some of the defining features of our present ? the disconnect between the kinds of policies that democratic majorities support and what our systems of government enable, the fervor to which we cling to national heroes like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, the enduring challenges of governing a fractious, deeply divided society, the complex relationship between material interests and ideology and much more.

Mentioned

?Rhetoric and Reality in the American Revolution? by Gordon S. Wood

The Framers? Coup by Michael J. Klarman

Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution by Woody Holton

Book recommendations

A Midwife?s Tale by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

The Negro in the American Revolution by Benjamin Quarles

Rebecca?s Revival by Jon F. Sensbach

This episode is guest-hosted by Jamelle Bouie, a New York Times columnist whose work focuses on the intersection of politics and history. Before joining The Times in 2019, he was the chief political correspondent for Slate magazine. You can read his work here and follow him on Twitter @jbouie. (Learn more about the other guest hosts during Ezra?s parental leave here.)

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein. Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected]

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Mary Marge Locker and Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld, audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

2021-10-19
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A Crypto Optimist and a Crypto Skeptic Walk Into a Podcast Studio

I?ve been wanting to explore the world crypto and blockchain technologies could build on the show for a while. In certain ways, I?m an optimist: I think these technologies matter, and many of them will work. In other ways, I?m a skeptic: I?m unconvinced that their wide adoption will lead to the glittering, decentralized digital world that many crypto proponents imagine.

So this is a crypto conversation that goes way beyond Bitcoin. It?s about what will happen when we build the foundation for truly digital economies, with digital money, digital goods, and digital ownership. It?s about technologies that could unlock a renaissance of creativity or an orgy of commercialization. Or both. And it?s about whether we are mistaking problems of power for problems of technology, and what might happen if we fix the technologies without changing the power structures. As everyone in this debate agrees, we made a lot of mistakes with the internet we have. How do we avoid them on the internet we?re building?

My guest today is Katie Haun. Haun is a general partner at the venture firm A16Z, also known as Andreesen-Horowitz. She?s a former Supreme Court clerk and federal prosecutor who has focused on cybercrime and prosecuted corrupt agents involved in Silk Road, the first big darknet market. So she saw the dark side of crypto first, and now, at A16Z, she?s a leader of one of the biggest crypto venture funds there is. So this is a conversation about the world crypto might create, conducted with as little technical jargon as we could manage. Enjoy!

I also want to note that this will be the last episode I host until January. I?m going on paternity leave for the next few months, and we?re going to have an absolutely all-star lineup of guest hosts while I?m gone. That lineup will include Jamelle Bouie, Ross Douthat, Tressie McMillan Cottom, Nicole Hemmer, Heather McGhee, David Brooks, Julia Galef, and the one, the only, Rogé Karma. I?m excited to be a listener and trust me, you should be too. 

One last bit of housekeeping: The Times?s Opinion section is looking for an editorial assistant to work with Michelle Goldberg and me on fact-checking our columns and doing some editorial research and clerical work. This is a great, entry-level role at The Times. It needs a year of journalism experience, and on my end, I?m particularly looking for candidates with a demonstrable obsession with policy analysis and social science research. You can find more information at http://nytco.com/careers.

Mentioned:

?NFTs and a Thousand True Fans? by Chris Dixon

Book recommendations:

The Company by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge

My Life in Full by Indra Nooyi

Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein. Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected]

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld, audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

2021-10-15
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Lessons on Living Well, From Nick Offerman

Nick Offerman is best known for his role as Ron Swanson, the mustachioed, libertarian outdoorsman who led the Pawnee, Ind., Parks and Recreation Department on the beloved show ?Parks and Recreation.? But there?s more to Offerman than Swanson: His new book, ?Where the Deer and the Antelope Play,? was inspired in part by his conversation with the agrarian poet-philosopher Wendell Berry, and a hiking trip he took with the writer George Saunders and the musician Jeff Tweedy (both of whom you may remember from past episodes of this show).

Offerman is fascinating. He plays, inhabits and ultimately subverts a kind of camp masculinity. Some of it is real. He really does own a woodworking shop. He really did release a whiskey with Lagavulin. But some of it is a container Offerman is using to try to get people to think about different ways to live. Like his famed character, Offerman loves the outdoors and thinks we?ve lost touch with the role it should play in our lives and the role it has played in our past. That?s the subject of his book, and to some degree, of this conversation. But Offerman is also just a wonderful storyteller and possessed of a generous, earthy wisdom. So this one is a delight.

Mentioned:

The Unsettling of America by Wendell Berry

Book Recommendations:

Fidelity by Wendell Berry

Wanderlust by Rebecca Solnit

Girls and Sex by Peggy Orenstein

Boys and Sex by Peggy Orenstein

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein. Book recommendations from our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected]

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Andrea López Cruzado and Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld, audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

Love listening to New York Times podcasts? Help us test a new audio product in beta and give us your thoughts to shape what it becomes. Visit nytimes.com/audio to join the beta.

2021-10-12
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Let's Talk About the Anxiety Freedom Can Cause

Maggie Nelson is a poet, critic and cultural theorist whose work includes the award-winning 2016 book ?The Argonauts.? Her newest work, ?On Freedom,? pierces right into the heart of America?s founding idea: What if there?s no such thing as freedom, at least not freedom as a state of enduring liberation?

And more than that: What if we don?t want to be free? Perhaps that?s the great lie in the American dream: We?re taught to want freedom, but many of us recoil from its touch.

Nelson describes herself as a ?disobedient thinker,? someone who enjoys looking at ?the difficulty of difficult things,? and this conversation bears that out. We talk about when and whether freedom is hard to bear, the difference between a state of liberation and the daily practice of freedom, the hard conversations sexual liberation demands, what it means to live in koans, my problems with the ?The Giving Tree,? Nelson?s disagreements with the left, the difficulty of maintaining your own experience of art in an age when the entire internet wants to tell you how to feel about everything, and more.

Book Recommendations:

Possibilities by David Graeber

Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments by Saidiya Hartman

The Force of Nonviolence by Judith Butler

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein. Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected]

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Mary Marge Locker and Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld, audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

2021-10-08
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How to Do the Most Good

Do we actually know how much good our charitable donations do?

This is the question that jump-started Holden Karnofsky?s current career. He was working at a hedge fund and wanted to figure out how to give his money away with the certainty that it would save as many lives as possible. But he couldn?t find a service that would help him do that, so he and his co-worker Elie Hassenfeld decided to quit their jobs to build one. The result was GiveWell, a nonprofit that measures the effectiveness of different charities and recommends the ones it is most confident can save lives with the least cost. Things like providing bed nets to prevent malaria and treatments to deworm schoolchildren in low-income countries.

But in recent years, Karnofsky has taken a different approach. He is currently the co-C.E.O. of Open Philanthropy, which operates under the same basic principle ? how can we do the most good possible? ? but with a very different theory of how to do so. Open Phil?s areas of funding range from farm animal welfare campaigns and criminal justice reform to pandemic preparedness and A.I. safety. And Karnofsky has recently written a series of blog posts centered around the idea that, ethically speaking, we?re living through the most important century in human history: The decisions we make in the coming decades about transformational technologies will determine the fate of trillions of future humans.

In all of this, Karnofsky represents the twin poles of a movement that?s come to deeply influence my thinking: effective altruism. The hallmark of that approach is following fundamental questions about how to do good through to their conclusions, no matter how simple or fantastical the answers. And so this is a conversation, at a meta-level, about how to think like an effective altruist. Along the way, we discuss everything from climate change to animal welfare to evaluating charities to artificial intelligence to the hard limits of economic growth to trying to view the world as if you were a billion years old.

You probably won?t agree with every prediction in here, but that is, in a way, the point: We live in a weird world that?s only getting weirder, and we need to be able to entertain both the obvious and the outlandish implications. What Karnofksy?s career reveals is how hard that is to actually do.

Mentioned:

The "Most Important Century" Blog Post Series on Holden Karnofsky?s blog, Cold Takes

GiveWell

More on Open Philanthropy?s approach to worldview diversification

?What Charity Navigator Gets Wrong About Effective Altruism? by William MacAskill

?The Past and Future of Economic Growth: A Semi-Endogenous Perspective? by Charles I. Jones

Book recommendations:

Due Diligence by David Roodman

The Lifeways of Hunter-Gatherers by Robert L. Kelly

The Precipice by Toby Ord

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein. Book recommendations from our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected]

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld, audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

2021-10-05
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Eric Adams Has a Message for the Democratic Party

In July, Eric Adams narrowly won the Democratic nomination for mayor of New York, making him the odds-on favorite to win in November. And he won the nomination by running directly against the verities of today?s progressives: asserting that the police are the answer, not the problem; that ?defund the police? misjudged what communities of color actually want; that Democrats had lost touch with the multiracial working-class voters they claim to represent.

Adams won on that message. He won in deep-blue New York City. It?s made him a national figure, and he?s been emphatic on what that means. ?I am the face of the new Democratic Party,? he said. And ?if the Democratic Party fails to recognize what we did here in New York, they?re going to have a problem in the midterm elections and they?re going to have a problem in the presidential election.?

When politicians become national stories, they often release, or rerelease, a book. Adams is no exception. But instead of a campaign manifesto or an autobiography, ?Healthy at Last? is a book about the health benefits of plant-based eating. ?Outspoken vegan? isn?t a political identity I tend to associate with ambitious politicians at odds with the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, but that?s Adams for you. He doesn?t shy away from a fight.

In this conversation, Adams and I talk about the fights he is picking, or will have to pick, in the coming years: with progressives who he thinks have lost their way, with police unions he wants to reform, with wealthy communities where he wants to build more housing, with critics who think plant-based eating is a hobby for foodie elites and with voters who may not be willing to wait for Adams?s ?upstream? approach to social problems to pay off.

Book Recommendations:

Healthy At Last by Eric Adams

Breaking The Habit of Being Yourself by Joe Dispenza

You Are The Placebo by Joe Dispenza

Upstream by Dan Heath

Atomic Habits by James Clear

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein. Book recommendations from our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected]

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld, audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

2021-10-01
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This Conversation With Richard Powers Is a Gift

There are certain conversations I fear trying to fit into a description. There?s just more to them than I?m going to be able to convey. This is one of them.

Richard Powers is the author of 13 novels, including the 2019 Pulitzer Prize-winning ?The Overstory.? If you haven?t read it, you should. It?ll change you. It changed me. I haven?t walked through a forest the same way again. And I?m not alone in that. When I interviewed Barack Obama this year, he recommended ?The Overstory,? saying, ?It changed how I thought about the earth and our place in it.?

Powers?s new book is ?Bewilderment.? You could think of it as 'The Innerstory': It is about how and whether we see the world we inhabit. It?s about the nature and limits of our empathy. It?s about refusing to die before we?re dead and taking seriously the gifts and responsibilities of being alive. It is about how we change our minds and how we change our societies. It is about how we treat delusion as normal and clarity as lunacy. It is enchanting, and it is devastating.

It is not just books through which Powers has been exploring these ideas. It is also through radical changes he?s made to how he lives his life. That?s where we start but far from where we end: This conversation touches on mortality, animism, politics, old-growth forests, extraterrestrial life, Buddhism and beyond.

Mentioned:

Finding the Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard

Book recommendations:

How to Be Animal by Melanie Challenger

Rooted by Lyanda Lynn Haupt

Ever Green by John W. Reid and Thomas E. Lovejoy

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of ?The Ezra Klein Show? at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein. Book recommendations from our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected]

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld, audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

2021-09-28
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Opinion Crossover: California Republicans, Facebook and Media Navelgazing

Today, we?re doing something a little different. Instead of a normal interview, we wanted to let you in on a special round table discussion I recently had with my fellow Opinion Audio hosts: Jane Coaston of ?The Argument? and Kara Swisher of ?Sway.? We discuss California?s recall election, the future of the Republican Party, the recent ?Facebook Files? revelations, the case for and against breaking up Big Tech, why so many Americans distrust the media and much more. 

So enjoy! And remember to subscribe to ?Sway? and ?The Argument? wherever you get your podcasts.

Mentioned: 

?Gavin Newsom Is Much More Than the Lesser of Two Evils? by Ezra Klein

?How California conservatives became the intellectual engine of Trumpism? by Jane Coaston 

?The Facebook Files?

 Book recommendations: 

The Fall of Berlin 1945 by Anthony Beevor

Fuzz by Mary Roach

This is Your Mind On Plants by Michael Pollan

The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein. Book recommendations from our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected]

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld, audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

2021-09-24
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We?re on the Precipice of a Post-Roe World

A few weeks ago, the Supreme Court let stand a Texas law creating a system of vigilante legal enforcement against anyone who participates in an abortion after the point of fetal cardiac activity. In effect, Texas? law bans abortions after about six weeks, which is long before many women even know they?re pregnant. And soon the court will hear arguments on a Mississippi abortion ban that will give the justices the chance to overturn Roe v. Wade directly.

We may be on the precipice of a post-Roe world.

But what does that actually mean? Leslie Reagan is the author of ?When Abortion Was a Crime? and ?Dangerous Pregnancies.? Reagan has done groundbreaking historical work to reveal what happened when U.S. states began criminalizing abortion in the early 19th century. There are lessons in our past that should inform our future, if we?ll listen.

This is also a particularly personal episode for me.My partner is 33 weeks pregnant. This is our second pregnancy. Both have been unusually dangerous and physically damaging. For the state to say that it will force any people to undergo that against their will is a remarkable assumption of power over individuals. Reagan and I talk about what that means, what the state is saying about the personhood, or lack thereof, of those who become pregnant.

Mentioned: 

"Behind the Texas Abortion Law, a Persevering Conservative Lawyer" by  Michael S. Schmidt

Book recommendations: 

How All Politics Became Reproductive Politics by Laura Biggs

Killing for Life by Carol Mason

Radical Reproductive Justice, edited by Loretta J. Ross, Lynn Roberts, Erika Derkas, Whitney Peoples, and Pamela Bridgewater

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein. Book recommendations from our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected]

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld, audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

2021-09-21
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Economics Needs to Reckon With What It Doesn?t Know

?The world discovered that John Maynard Keynes was right when he declared during World War II that ?anything we can actually do, we can afford,?? writes Adam Tooze. ?Budget constraints don?t seem to exist; money is a mere technicality. The hard limits of financial sustainability, policed, we used to think, by ferocious bond markets, were blurred by the 2008 financial crisis. In 2020, they were erased.?

Tooze is an economic historian at Columbia University, co-hosts the podcast ?Ones and Tooze,? writes the brilliant Chartbook blog and is the author of ?Crashed,? the single best history of the 2008 financial crisis. He?s now out with a new book, ?Shutdown: How Covid Shook the World?s Economy,? which tells the story of the unprecedented global economic response to the pandemic.

The central thread of Tooze?s work is how the past decade of crises has upended many of the core assumptions that have guided economic policymaking for the past 50 years ? including ones that many contemporary economists and policymakers continue to cling to. So that?s what we mainly talk about here. But we also discuss how the boundaries of acceptable thought in the economics profession are policed, the actual risk of runaway inflation, the limits of green monetary policy, the fight over Jerome Powell?s reappointment as Fed chair, what the Covid crisis reveals about our ability to respond to the climate crisis, the need for a supply-side progressivism and more.

Mentioned: 

?Declining worker power and American economic performance? by Anna Stansbury and Larry Summers 

?The green swan: Central banking and financial stability in the age of climate change?

Book recommendations: 

The Deficit Myth by Stephanie Kelton

Stalingrad by Vasily Grossman

Essays in Persuasion by John Maynard Keynes

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein. Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected]

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld, audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

2021-09-17
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How Colson Whitehead Writes About Our ?Big Wild Country?

?If he got a thrill out of transforming these ill-gotten goods into legit merchandise, a zap-charge in his blood like he?d plugged into a socket, he was in control of it and not the other way around,? writes Colson Whitehead in his new novel, ?Harlem Shuffle.? ?Dizzying and powerful as it was. Everyone had secret corners and alleys that no one else saw ? what mattered were your major streets and boulevards, the stuff that showed up on other people?s maps of you.?

Whitehead is the author of ?The Underground Railroad,? which won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, and ?The Nickel Boys,? which also won a Pulitzer, the first time two consecutive books by an author won. But he actually started ?Harlem Shuffle? in between those two books. And now that he?s finished it, he can?t quite put it down. He?s working on a sequel, he told me. The first time he?s tried one.

?Harlem Shuffle? is both a joyous and a troubled book. It?s built around Ray Carney, a furniture salesman and fence for stolen goods, and a series of capers around 1960s-era Harlem. But at its core it?s about patrimony, capitalism, ambition, race and the moral costs of striving in an unjust system.

We talk about all that, and more: how Marvel Comics made Whitehead want to be a writer, how parenthood changed him, why he hopes to distill it all down to a haiku, whether the writing world is a just or unjust system, the nature of zombies, the nonfiction of the late-Aughts internet, the legacy of 9/11, his favorite heist movies, what his wife thinks his characters know that he doesn?t ? and I could keep going.

This one?s a fun one.

Mentioned: 

"Wow, Fiction Works!" by Colson Whitehead

Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

Zone One by Colson Whitehead

Sag Harbor by Colson Whitehead

The Noble Hustle by Colson Whitehead

Book recommendations: 

Love Goes to Buildings on Fire by Will Hermes

The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka

When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka

Mad As Hell by Dave Itzkoff

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein. Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected]

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld, audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

2021-09-14
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Tyler Cowen on the Great Stagnation?s End

Tyler Cowen is an economist at George Mason University, the co-founder of the blog Marginal Revolution, and host of the podcast ?Conversations With Tyler.? But more than that, he?s a genuine polymath who reads about everything, goes everywhere and talks to everyone. I?ve known him for years, and while I disagree with him on quite a bit, there are few people I learn more from in a single conversation.

In this conversation, I wanted to get at the connective thread in Cowen?s work: the moral imperative of economic growth. Growth doesn?t have the best reputation in left-wing circles these days, and often for good reason. It?s hard to look at a world where rising G.D.P. has driven rising temperatures and shocking inequality, and then to continue venerating growth as an all-encompassing good.

Cowen admits those criticisms ? particularly the climate one ? but still argues that growth, properly measured, is central to a moral economy. The East Asian economic miracles are, he?s written, ?the highest manifestation of the ethical good in human history to date.? Time, he argues, is a ?moral illusion,? and the most important thing we can do for the future is set the power of compounding growth to work now. We do that by generating new ideas, new technologies, new ways of living and cooperating. And that, in turn, requires us to find and nurture human talent, which is where his recent work has focused.

So we begin this conversation by discussing the case for and against economic growth, but we also get into lots of other things: why Cowen thinks the great stagnation in technology is coming to an end; the future of technologies like A.I., crypto, fourth-generation nuclear and the Chinese system of government; the problems in how we fund scientific research; what the right has done to make government both ineffective and larger; why Cowen is skeptical of universal pre-K (and why I?m not); whether I overestimate the dangers of polarization; the ways in which we?re getting weirder; the long-term future of human civilization; why reading is overrated and travel is underrated; how to appreciate classical music and much more.

Mentioned: 

The Great Stagnation by Tyler Cowen 

Stubborn Attachments by Tyler Cowen 

?Beyond GDP? Welfare across Countries and Time? by Charles I. Jones and Peter J. Klenow 

(No book recommendations on this one, but tune in for some classical music and travel recommendations) 

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein. 

Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected]

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld, audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

2021-09-10
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Can We Change Our Sexual Desires? Should We?

?Feminists have long dreamed of sexual freedom,? writes Amia Srinivasan. ?What they refuse to accept is its simulacrum: sex that is said to be free, not because it is equal, but because it is ubiquitous.?

Srinivasan is an Oxford philosopher who, in 2018, wrote the viral essay ?Does Anyone Have the Right to Sex?? Her piece was inspired by Elliot Rodger?s murderous rampage and the misogynist manifesto he published to justify it. But Srinivasan?s inquiry opened out to larger questions about the relationship between sex and status, what happens when we?re undesired for unjust reasons and whether we can change our own preferences and passions. The task, as she frames it, is ?not imagining a desire regulated by the demands of justice, but a desire set free from the binds of injustice.? I love that line.

Srinivasan?s new book of essays, ?The Right to Sex,? includes that essay alongside other challenging pieces considering consent, pornography, student-professor relationships, sex work and the role of law in regulating all of those activities. This is a conversation about topics we don?t always cover on this show, but that shape the world we all live in: Monogamy and polyamory, the nature and malleability of desire, the interplay between sex and status-seeking, what it would mean to be sexually free, the relationship between inequality and modern dating, incels, the feminist critique of porn, how the internet has transformed the sexual culture for today?s young people and much more.

(One note: This conversation was recorded before the Supreme Court permitted a Texas law prohibiting abortions after six weeks, arguably ushering in the post-Roe era. We?re working on an episode that will discuss that directly.)

Mentioned: 

The Right to Sex by Amia Srinivasan

"Sex Worker Syllabus and Toolkit for Academics" by Heather Berg, Angela Jones and PJ Patella-Rey

Book recommendations: 

Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around by Alethia Jones and Virginia Eubanks, with Barbara Smith 

Revolting Prostitutes by Juno Mac and Molly Smith

Feminist International by Verónica Gago, translated by Liz Mason-Deese

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein. Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected]

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld, audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

2021-09-07
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This Isn?t Your Grandpa?s Joe Biden

President Biden?s economic policy isn?t what you would have expected from his long career. That?s true in the legislation he?s backing, which is bigger and bolder than anything we?ve seen from him before, but it?s even truer in the appointments he?s making and the theories he?s embracing. On everything from antitrust to inflation to employment to power, Biden is reflecting a new strain of progressive economics thoughts ? one that wants to direct markets, not just correct them.

Felicia Wong is the chief executive of the Roosevelt Institute, one of the think tanks that?s been central to building the new progressive economics that Biden has picked up. She joined me for a conversation on Biden?s theory of the economy, how antitrust thinking has changed, whether Jerome Powell should be reappointed chair of the Federal Reserve, whether progressives need to reckon with Amazon?s wild popularity, what kind of inflation problem we have and much more.

Mentioned: 

?Socialists Will Never Understand Elizabeth Warren? by Henry Farrell

Book recommendations: 

Undoing the Demos by Wendy Brown

The End of the Myth by Greg Grandin

Difference without Domination by Danielle Allen and Rohini Somanathan

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein. Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected]

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld, audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

2021-09-03
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Ask Ezra Anything: Degrowth, Third Parties, Reading and More

We asked for your questions, and you answered. Hundreds and hundreds of fantastic questions poured in, and our producer Annie Galvin joined me to ask some of the best of them. Does the infrastructure bill mean there?s more hope for bipartisanship than we thought? What?s my view on the degrowth movement? What do I think my book, ?Why We?re Polarized,? got right, and what did it get wrong? Will plant- and cell-based meats ever be cheaper than eating animals, given the subsidies the meat industry gets? Why hasn?t any blue state created a single-payer health care system? Can you really build more housing without creating a biodiversity crisis?

We also get into reading habits, comic books, meditation, children?s books, why I spend a lot of time thinking about death and much more. So here it is: the ?Ask Me Anything? episode.

Mentioned:

"What Does Degrowth mean? A Few Points of Clarification" by Jason Hickel

"The Ugly Secrets Behind the Costco Chicken" by Nicholas Kristof

"The Number of Parties" by Maurice Duverger

Breaking the Two-Party Doom Loop: The Case for Multiparty Democracy in America  by Lee Drutman

"Forget Obamacare: Vermont Wants to Bring Single-Payer to America" by Sarah Kliff

"What the Rich Don't Want to Admit About the Poor" by Ezra Klein

Buddhism Without Beliefs by Stephen Batchelor

Seeing That Frees by Rob Burbea

The Sandman: Overture by Neil Gaiman

Supergods by Grant Morrison

Book Recommendations:

Here We Are by Oliver Jeffers

Cars and Trucks and Things That Go by Richard Scarry

Happy Birthday to You! by Dr. Seuss

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein. Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected]

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld, audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

2021-08-31
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The Foreign Policy Conversation Washington Doesn?t Want to Have

Everything about the Afghanistan withdrawal is tragic. But that tragedy is the result not of the withdrawal, but the occupation, and America?s profound misjudgment of its own power and limits.

This is the foreign policy conversation much of Washington is trying desperately to avoid. The answer for the horrors of war is always more war. The bomb attack at the Kabul airport on Thursday reflects this dynamic perfectly: It?s being wielded as a cudgel by those who support a permanent American occupation of Afghanistan, guaranteeing more U.S., and Afghan, casualties in a bloody, open-ended struggle with the Taliban. We are ever alert to the costs of our inaction, or absence, but not to the harms of our presence or policies.

Robert Wright is a journalist and author of, among other things, the excellent newsletter Nonzero, where he examines the assumptions that drive America?s foreign policy. We discuss the deeper history of American involvement in Afghanistan, the limits of America?s knowledge of other nations, why the foreign policy establishment retains its authority and influence, the hollowness of humanitarian justifications for remaining in Afghanistan, the dangers of too much bipartisanship, how the withdrawal could have gone both better or much worse, the emerging consensus around a possible cold war with China and much more.

Book recommendations: 

The Best and the Brightest by David Halberstam

The Hell of Good Intentions by Stephen Walt

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley 

If you enjoyed this episode, check out Ezra?s recent column: ?Let?s Not Pretend That the Way We Withdrew From Afghanistan Was the Problem? 

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected]

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld, audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

2021-08-27
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This Conversation Will Change How You Think About Trauma

?Trauma is much more than a story about something that happened long ago,? writes Dr. Bessel van der Kolk. ?The emotions and physical sensations that were imprinted during the trauma are experienced not as memories but as disruptive physical reactions in the present.?

Van der Kolk, a psychiatrist by training, has been a pioneer in trauma research for decades now and leads the Trauma Research Foundation. His 2014 book ?The Body Keeps the Score,? quickly became a touchstone on the topic. And although the book was first released seven years ago, it now sits at No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list, a testament to the state of our national psyche.

The core argument of the book is that traumatic experiences ? everything from sexual assault and incest to emotional and physical abuse ? become embedded in the older, more primal parts of our brain that don?t have access to conscious awareness. And that means two things simultaneously. First, that trauma lodges in the body. We carry a physical imprint of our psychic wounds. The body keeps the score. But ? and I found this more revelatory ? the mind hides the score. It obscures the memories, or convinces us our victimization was our fault, or covers the event in shame so we don?t discuss it.

There?s a lot in this conversation. We discuss the lived experience of trauma, the relationship between the mind and the body, the differences between our ?experiencing? and ?autobiographical? selves, why van der Kolk believes human language is both a ?miracle? and a ?tyranny,? unconventional treatments for trauma from E.M.D.R. and yoga to psychedelics and theater, how societies can manage collective trauma like 9/11 and Covid-19, the shortcomings of America?s ?post-alcoholic? approach to dealing with psychic suffering, how to navigate the often complex relationships with the traumatized people we know and love, and much more.

Mentioned: 

?The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study? by Vince Felitti et al.

Study on efficacy of EMDR

?REBUS and the Anarchic Brain: Toward a Unified Model of the Brain Action of Psychedelics? by Robin Carhart-Harris et al. 

Book Recommendations:

The Apology by V 

Love in Goon Park by Deborah Blum

The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan 

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected]

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld, audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

2021-08-24
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The Argument: Should We Say "Hi" to Aliens?

We're taking this week off from publishing new episodes, so today we're bringing you an episode from "The Argument" about one of my favorite topics: aliens. We'll be back with new episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" on Tuesday.

With the U.S. government puzzling over U.F.O.s, and potentially habitable exoplanets in our telescopes, earthlings are closer than ever to finding other intelligent life in the universe. So the existential question is: Should we try to communicate with whatever we think might be out there?

That?s the argument this week between Douglas Vakoch and Michio Kaku. Vakoch, the president of the research and educational nonprofit METI (Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence) International, has dedicated his life?s work to intentionally broadcasting messages beyond our solar system.

Kaku, a professor of theoretical physics at the City College of New York and a co-founder of string field theory, thinks reaching out to unknown aliens is a catastrophically bad idea and ?would be the biggest mistake in human history.?

Together, they join Jane  to debate the question of making first contact and our place in the cosmos.

Mentioned in this episode:

Adam Mann, The New Yorker: ?Intelligent Ways to Search for Extraterrestrials?

Gideon Lewis-Kraus, The New Yorker: ?How the Pentagon Started Taking U.F.O.s Seriously?

Arik Kershenbaum, The Wall Street Journal, ?Alien Languages May Not Be Entirely Alien to Us?

?Star Trek: The Next Generation,? Season 4, Episode 15: ?First Contact? (Netflix)

The Ezra Klein Show: ?Obama Explains How America Went From ?Yes We Can? to ?MAGA??

You can find more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected]

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld, audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

2021-08-20
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Best of: George Saunders on Kindness in a Cruel World

We?re taking a week off from releasing new episodes, so today I wanted to re-up one of my favorite episodes of the show, a conversation with fiction writer George Saunders that covers much more than just his writing.

Saunders is one of America?s greatest living writers. He?s the author of dozens of critically acclaimed short stories, including his 2013 collection, ?Tenth of December?; his debut novel, ?Lincoln in the Bardo,? won the 2017 Booker Prize; and his nonfiction work has empathy and insight that leave pieces from more than a decade ago ringing in my head today. His most recent book, ?A Swim in A Pond in the Rain,? is a literary master class built around seven Russian short stories, analyzing how they work, and what they reveal about how we work.

I?ve wanted to interview Saunders for more than 15 years. I first saw him talk when I was in college, and there was a quality of compassion and consideration in every response that was, well, strange. His voice doesn?t sound like his fiction. His fiction is bitingly satirical, manic, often unsettling. His voice is calm, kind, gracious. The dissonance stuck with me.

Saunders?s central topic, literalized in his famous 2013 commencement speech, is about what it means to be kind in an unkind world. And that?s the organizing question of this conversation, too. We discuss the collisions between capitalism and human relations, the relationship between writing and meditation, Saunders?s personal editing process, the tension between empathizing with others and holding them to account, the promise of re-localizing our politics, the way our minds deceive us, Tolstoy?s unusual theory of personal transformation and much more.

What a pleasure this conversation was. So worth the wait.

Recommendations: 

"Red Cavalry" by Isaac Babel

"Stamped from the Beginning" by Ibram X. Kendi

"Dispatches" by Michael Herr

"Patriotic Gore" by Edmund Wilson

"In Love with the World" by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

"Loving; Living; Party Going" by Henry Green

"Scrambled Eggs & Whiskey" by Hayden Carruth

"Tropic of Squalor" by Mary Carr

"They Lift Their Wings to Cry" by Brooks Haxton

"The Hundred Dresses" by Eleanor Estes and Louis Slobodkin

"Caps for Sale" by Esphyr Slobodkina

You can find a transcript of this episode here and more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected].

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Rogé Karma, Jeff Geld and Annie Galvin; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld.

2021-08-17
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How Identity Politics Took Over the Republican Party

One problem with the conversation around political polarization is that it can imply that polarization is a static, singular thing. That our divisions are fixed and unchanging. But that?s not how it is at all. The dimensions of conflict change, and they change quickly. In the Obama era, Republicans mobilized against government spending and deficits but didn?t think much about election administration. Now, a trillion-dollar infrastructure package has passed the Senate with bipartisan support, but the divisions over democracy and voting access are deep.

Lilliana Mason is one of the political scientists I?ve learned the most from in recent years. Her 2018 book, ?Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity,? is, in my view, one of the most important political books of the last decade. But it?s been a tumultuous three and a half years since it was published. And Mason has continued to pump out important new work on political identity, how support for Donald Trump differs from that of other Republicans, when Democrats and Republicans believe political violence is justifiable and even necessary, and much more. And so I wanted to have Mason on the show to discuss how her thinking has changed in recent years and, in particular, which identities and interests she thinks are at the center of our political collisions today.

Mentioned:

Uncivil Agreement by Lilliana Mason

"Who's At the Party? Group Sentiments, Knowledge and Partisan Identity" by John Victor Kane, Lilliana Mason and Julie Wronski

"Activating Animus: The Uniquely Social Roots of Trump Support" by Lilliana Mason, Julie Wronski and John Victor Kane

"Fear and Loathing Across Party Lines: New Evidence on Group Polarization" by Shanto Iyengar and Sean J. Westwood

The Sum of Us by Heather McGhee

Book Recommendations:

Reconstruction by Eric Foner

Black Reconstruction in America 1860-1880 by W. E. B. Du Bois

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected]

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Julie Beer and Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld, audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

2021-08-13
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We?re Living in the World the War on Terror Built

The Sept, 11 attacks might have taken place almost 20 years ago, but we?re still living in the America that the war on terror built. Its legacy is not just mass surveillance and drone strikes but birtherism, nativism and Donald Trump. And much of it has been ? and continues to be ? a bipartisan effort.

That?s the argument of Spencer Ackerman?s new book, ?Reign of Terror.? Ackerman is the author of the newsletter Forever Wars, a contributing editor at The Daily Beast, and a member of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team at The Guardian that reported on Edward Snowden?s surveillance revelations. In ?Reign of Terror,? Ackerman takes all he?s reported on and wraps it into one sweeping argument: We are still in the 9/11 era, and that?s all the more true because we?ve come to take so much of it for granted.

We discuss the connection between Sept. 11 and birtherism, the scope of mass surveillance, the ethics of drone strikes, how Trump understood the war on terror?s moral core better than its architects did, the messy choices of national security, the ways America?s belief in its own innocence makes it less safe, Barack Obama?s complicated relationship with the fight against terrorism, the emergence of a genuinely left-wing foreign policy movement, the coalescing bipartisan consensus around a cold war with China, and much more.

Book recommendations: 

American War by Omar El Akkad

The Jakarta Method by Vincent Bevins

Overheated by Kate Aronoff

The New Gods by Jack Kirby 

Lazarus by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark

Rise of the Black Panther by Evan Narcisse and Ta-Nehisi Coates

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected]

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld, audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

2021-08-10
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The Good and Bad News About the Delta Variant

?The war has changed.? That?s what the leaked C.D.C. document says about the way the Delta variant has upended our coronavirus policies. Delta is astonishingly contagious. It can generate 1,000 times the viral load of the original coronavirus strain, and it spreads with the ease of chickenpox. The vaccinated can no longer assume immunity. The unvaccinated are at more risk than ever. Masks are back. New York City is essentially imposing a vaccine mandate.

I have so many questions about the war we?re now in. What do we actually know about Delta? If you?re vaccinated, is it more or less likely to kill you than the flu? Is it more serious for children? Are we re-masking to protect the unvaccinated, or is this also for the vaccinated? What are the risks of long Covid for the vaccinated? I could go on.

Luckily, Dr. Céline Gounder has answers. Gounder is an epidemiologist at N.Y.U. medical school, a CNN medical analyst and host of the Covid podcast ?Epidemic.? I?m not sure if this conversation will make you feel better about the war we?re now in. But it will, if nothing else, make it much, much clearer.

 

Mentioned:

"Improving Communications Around Vaccine Breakthrough and Vaccine Effectiveness" by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Book recommendations:

Wired for Culture by Mark Pagel

Rule Makers, Rule Breakers by Michele Gelfand

Stuck by Heidi J. Larson

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected]

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld, audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

2021-08-06
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41 Questions For The Technologies We Use, and That Use Us

We all know by now that Zoom causes fatigue, social media spreads misinformation and Google Maps is wiping out our sense of direction. We also know, of course, that Zoom allows us to cooperate across continents, that social media connects us to our families and Google Maps keeps us from being lost. A lot of technological criticism today is about weighing whether a technology is good or bad, or judging its various uses. But there?s an older tradition of criticism that asks a more fundamental and nuanced question: How do these technologies change the people who use them, both for good and for bad? And what do the people who use them ? all of us, in other words ? actually want? Do we even know?

L.M. Sacasas explores these questions in his great newsletter, ?The Convivial Society.? His work is marrying the theorists of the 20th century ? Hannah Arendt, C.S. Lewis, Ivan Illich, Marshall McLuhan, Neil Postman and more ? to the technologies of the present day. I?ve found this merging of past thinkers and contemporary concerns revelatory in an era when we tend to take the shape of our world for granted and forget how it would look to those who stood outside it, or how it looked to those who were there at the inception of these tools and mediums.

Sacasas recently published a list of 41 questions we should ask of the technologies and tools that shape our lives. What I loved about these questions is how they invite us to think not just about technologies, but about ourselves, and how we act and what we want and what, in the end, we truly value. So I asked him on the show to talk through some of them, and to see what light they shed on the lives we live.

Mentioned: 

"The Questions Concerning Technology" by L. M. Sacasas

"A Theory of Zoom Fatigue" by L. M. Sacasas

"Do Artifacts Have Ethics?" by L. M. Sacasas

Technics and Civilization by Lewis Mumford

"Before We Make Out, Wanna Dismantle Capitalism?" by Emilia Petrarca

"The Analog City and the Digital City" by L. M. Sacasas

"The Materiality of Digital Culture" by L. M. Sacasas

"When Silence Is Power" by L. M. Sacasas

Book recommendations: 

Tools for Conviviality by Ivan Illich

The Human Condition by Hannah Arendt

Technology and the Character of Contemporary Life by Albert Borgmann

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected]

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld, audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

2021-08-03
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Nikole Hannah-Jones and Ta-Nehisi Coates on the Fight Over U.S. History

You?ve heard plenty by now about the fights over teaching critical race theory and the 1619 Project. But behind those skirmishes is something deeper: A fight over the story we tell about America. Why that fight has so gripped our national discourse is the question of this podcast: What changes when a country?s sense of its own history changes? What changes when who gets to tell that story changes? What are the stakes here, and why now?

My guests for this conversation need little introduction. Nikole Hannah-Jones is an investigative journalist for the New York Times Magazine where she led the 1619 Project, and, before that, did incredible work on racial inequality in the American education system. Ta- Nehisi Coates is the author of books including ?Between the World and Me? and ?The Water Dancer,? essays including ?The Case for Reparations,? and, for Marvel Comics, ?Captain America? and ?Black Panther.? Each of them has won more prestigious awards for their work than I could possibly list here, and both will be taking faculty positions at Howard University.

We discuss the 1619 Project, whether patriotism can coexist with shame and regret, the political power of American exceptionalism, the cracked foundations of American democracy, how journalism is and should be taught, our relationships to Twitter, what journalists can learn from children and much more.

Nikole Hannah-Jones book recommendations: 

Black Reconstruction in America, 1860-1880 by W.E.B Du Bois

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

Ta-Nehisi Coates book recommendations: 

Postwar by Tony Judt 

Avengers of the New World by Laurent Dubois

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected]

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld, audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

2021-07-30
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Ross Douthat Has Been ?Radicalized a Little Bit, Too?

Am I too panicked about the future of American democracy?

My colleague Ross Douthat thinks so. He points to research suggesting that voter ID laws and absentee voting have modest effects on elections and the reality that Republican state officials already have tremendous power to alter election outcomes ? powers they did not use in the aftermath of 2020 and show few signs of preparing to use now.

So I invited Ross on the show to hash it out: Am I too alarmed, or is he too chill? We also talk about his trio of recent columns trying to find a middle ground in the fight over how America understands, and teaches, it?s own history; as well as how his own medical struggles with treatment-resistant Lyme disease have shaped how he?s understood and covered the coronavirus.

 

Mentioned: 

"Can Anything End the Voting Wars?" by Ross Douthat

Insecure Majorities: Congress and the Perpetual Campaign by Frances Lee

"What Progressives Want, and What Conservatives Are Fighting" by Ross Douthat

"The Excesses of Antiracist Education" by Ross Douthat

"Why a Patriotic Education Can Be Valuable" by Ross Douthat

"Why the Lab Leak Theory Matters" by Ross Douthat

"Use of Alternative Medicine for Cancer and Its Impact on Survival" by Skyler B. Johnson, Henry S. Park, Cary P. Gross and James B. Yu

The Deep Places: A Memoir of Illness and Recovery by Ross Douthat

"The War That Made Our World" by Ross Douthat

Book recommendations: 

Crucible of War: The Seven Years' War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766 by Fred Anderson

Champlain's Dream by David Hackett Fischer

Mom Genes: Inside the New Science of Our Ancient Maternal Instinct by Abigail Tucker

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected]

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld, audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

2021-07-27
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How Blue Cities Became So Outrageously Unaffordable

Joe Biden?s economic agenda is centered on a basic premise: The United States needs to build. To build roads and bridges. To build child care facilities and car-charging stations. To build public transit and affordable housing. And in doing so, to build a better future for everyone.

But there?s a twist of irony in that vision. Because right now, even in places where Democrats hold control over government, they are consistently failing to build cheaply, quickly and equitably. In recent decades, blue states and cities from Los Angeles to Boston to New York have become known for their outrageously expensive housing, massive homeless populations and infrastructure projects marred by major delays and cost overruns ? all stemming from this fundamental inability to actually build.

Jerusalem Demsas is a policy reporter at Vox who covers a range of issues from housing to transportation. And the central question her work asks is this: Why is the party that ostensibly supports big government doing ambitious things constantly failing to do just that, even in the places where it holds the most power?

So this is a conversation about the policy areas where blue city and state governance is failing the most: housing, homelessness, infrastructure. But it is also about the larger problems that those failures reveal: The tension between big-government liberalism and anti-corporatist progressivism; the cognitive dissonance between what city-dwelling, college-educated liberals say they believe and their inequality-amplifying actions; how reforms intended to make government more accountable to the people have been wielded by special interests to stall or kill popular projects; and much more.


Mentioned: 

?Why does it cost so much to build things in America?? by Jerusalem Demsas

?Los Angeles?s quixotic quest to end homelessness? by Jerusalem Demsas 

?Housing Constraints and Spatial Misallocation? by Chang-Tai Hsieh and Enrico Moretti

Public Citizens by Paul Sabin

?Zoom Does Not Reduce Unequal Participation? by Katherine Levine Einstein, David Glick, Luisa Godinez Puig, and Maxwell Palmer

?The Gavin Newsom Recall Is a Farce? by Ezra Klein

?California Is Making Liberals Squirm? by Ezra Klein

Book recommendations: 

Golden Gates by Conor Dougherty

The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin

Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected]

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld, audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

2021-07-23
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Our Workplaces Think We?re Computers. We?re Not.

For decades, our society?s dominant metaphor for the mind has been a computer. A machine that operates the exact same way whether it?s in a dark room or next to a sunny window, whether it?s been working for 30 seconds or three hours, whether it?s near other computers or completely alone.

But that?s wrong. Annie Murphy Paul?s ?The Extended Mind? argues, convincingly, that the human mind is contextual. It works differently in different environments, with different tools, amid different bodily states, among other minds.

Here?s the problem: Our schools, our workplaces, our society are built atop that bad metaphor. Activities and habits that we?ve been taught to associate with creativity and efficiency often stunt our thinking, and so much that we?ve been taught to dismiss ? activities that look like leisure, play or rest ? are crucial to thinking (and living!) well.

Paul?s book, read correctly, is a radical critique of not just how we think about thinking, but how we?ve constructed much of our society. In this conversation, we discuss how the body can pick up on patterns before the conscious mind knows what it?s seen, why forcing kids (and adults) to ?sit still? makes it harder for them to think clearly, the connection between physical movement and creativity, why efficiency is often the enemy of productivity, the restorative power of exposure to the natural world, the dystopian implications of massive cognitive inequality, why open-plan offices were a terrible idea and much more.

Mentioned: 

"The extended mind" by Andy Clark and David J. Chalmers

Book recommendations: 

Supersizing the Mind by Andy Clark

Mind in Motion by Barbara Tversky

Thoughts Without a Thinker by Mark Epstein

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected]

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld, audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

2021-07-20
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Ibram X. Kendi on What Conservatives?and Liberals?Get Wrong About Antiracism

?What if instead of a feelings advocacy we had an outcome advocacy that put equitable outcomes before our guilt and anguish?? wrote Ibram X. Kendi in his 2019 book ?How to Be an Antiracist.? ?What if we focused our human and fiscal resources on changing power and policy to actually make society, not just our feelings, better??

When I first read ?How to Be an Antiracist? in the fall of 2019, I was struck by Kendi?s relentless focus on outcomes. For him, racism wasn?t about what you intended, or what you felt. If a given policy or action reduced racial inequality, it was antiracist; if it increased racial inequality, it was racist. If you support policies that reduce racial inequality you are being antiracist; if you aren?t, you?re being racist. That?s it.

These days, Kendi needs little introduction. ?How to Be an Antiracist? has become one of the signature texts of the post-George Floyd moment. And Kendi himself has become a central figure of the antiracist movement, having launched a vast array of projects, from his new podcast, ?Be Antiracist,? to his children?s book ?Antiracist Baby? to his Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University.

But I?ve often wondered about the genuine radicalism of Kendi?s work as it has phased from book to phenomenon. There are certainly some people who are doing the real, hard analytical and empirical work that Kendi actually calls for. But a lot of what occurs under the banner of ?antiracism? is putting up yard signs, publicly acknowledging privilege and issuing statements of solidarity without the consequentialist analysis he demands.

So I wanted to have a conversation that really took Kendi?s approach to antiracism seriously. Spoiler alert: It?s hard. We discuss policy issues ranging from police defunding to open borders and interest rates, the research on corporate diversity and inclusion trainings, the political tradeoffs of Barack Obama?s presidency, the cases where a policy might reduce racial inequality but the backlash to it might increase it, the right-wing assault on critical race theory, visions of a positive-sum racial future and much more.

References:

Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi

Book recommendations: 

Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment Is Killing America's Heartland by Jonathan M. Metzl

The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee

Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected]

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld, audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

 

2021-07-16
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How Octopuses Upend What We Know About Ourselves

I?ve spent the past few months on an octopus kick. In that, I don?t seem to be alone. Octopuses (it?s incorrect to say ?octopi,? to my despair) are having a moment: There are award-winning books, documentaries and even science fiction about them. I suspect it?s the same hunger that leaves many of us yearning to know aliens: How do radically different minds work? What is it like to be a truly different being living in a similar world? The flying objects above remain unidentified. But the incomprehensible objects below do not. We are starting to be smart enough to ask the question: How smart are octopuses? And what are their lives like?

Sy Montgomery is a naturalist and the author of dozens of books on animals. In 2015 she published the dazzling book ?The Soul of an Octopus,? which became a finalist for the National Book Award in nonfiction. It?s an investigation not only into the lives and minds of octopuses but also into the relationships they can and do have with human beings.

This was one of those conversations that are hard to describe, but it was a joy to have. Montgomery writes and speaks with an appropriate sense of wonder about the world around us and the other animals that inhabit it. This is a conversation about octopuses, of course, but it?s also about us: our minds, our relationship with the natural world, what we see and what we?ve learned to stop seeing. It will leave you looking at the water ? and maybe at yourself ? differently.

Book recommendations: 

The Outermost House by Henry Beston

The Old Way by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas

King Solomon's Ring by Konrad Lorenz

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected]

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld, audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

2021-07-13
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Critical Race Theory, Comic Books and the Power of Public Schools

Eve Ewing?s work as a sociologist, poet, visual artist, podcaster and comic book writer manages to do two things that are often in tension: it gives us a clear picture of how race, power and education work in America right now, and envisions a world that could work radically differently.

?Dreaming and imagination and possibility are very much key words for the kind of work I want to do,? Ewing says. She?s a sociologist at the University of Chicago who focuses on race and public education, and her book ?Ghosts in the Schoolyard? brilliantly examines the closing of several Chicago public schools around 2013 and what they meant to the communities they served. But she has also written Marvel comics and a book for young readers, ?Maya and the Robot,? which comes out next week. She hosted the podcast ?Bughouse Square,? a collaboration with the Studs Terkel Radio Archive, makes visual art and works on TV productions. She is a public educator in the broadest sense of the term.

I wanted to see how one person?s mind keeps all of these projects straight, and how Ewing?s sociology connects to her poetry and comic books. One thread that unites Ewing?s work is that she is often seeking out knowledge in unexpected places and challenging her audience to think about whose experiences and insights we treat as valid when debating policy. Our conversation touched on the role of public schools in low-income communities, quantitative versus ?emotional? data, the limits of objectivity in debates, critical race theory and how it can inform politics, her Afrofuturist poetry that looks forward and backward in time, the cultural significance of comics, her feelings about Tony Stark and more.

Mentioned: 

?We Real Cool? by Gwendolyn Brooks

Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago's South Side by Eve Ewing

Choosing Homes, Choosing Schools, edited by Annette Lareau and Kimberly Goyette

Ironheart #1 by Eve Ewing

Bughouse Square with Eve Ewing

Book recommendations:  

Chlorine Sky by Mahogany L. Browne

Halfway Home: Race, Punishment and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration by Reuben Jonathan Miller

Severance by Ling Ma

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected]

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld, audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

2021-07-09
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Best of: What ?Drained-Pool? Politics Costs America

In February, I spoke with Heather McGhee. I?ve been thinking about the conversation ever since. 

?The American landscape was once graced with resplendent public swimming pools, some big enough to hold thousands of swimmers at a time,? writes McGhee in her recent book, ?The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together.? These pools were the pride of their communities, monuments to what public investment could do. But they were, in many places, whites-only. Then came the desegregation orders. The pools would need to be open to everyone. But these communities found a loophole. They could close them for everyone. Drain them. Fill them with concrete. Shutter their parks departments entirely. And so they did.

Drained-pool politics ? if ?they? can also have it, then no one can ? are still with us today. They help explain why America still doesn?t have a truly universal health care system, a child care system, or a decent social safety net. Why policy changes that seem incredibly modest by international standards are so often met with backlash. And there are plenty of recent examples: A few weeks ago, Sen. Tom Cotton proposed that rather than abolishing the racist sentencing guidelines for crack cocaine possession, we extend them to powder cocaine, too. 

This conversation is just as relevant today as it was at the time we recorded it. The lens it offers into American policy and politics is truly invaluable for making sense of so much of what?s going on around us. And it?s message is ultimately a hopeful one: There is a $20 bill lying on the street of American public policy. It?s the vast ?solidarity dividends? waiting for us, if we are willing to stand with, rather than against, each other.

Recommendations: 

"Parable of the Sower" by Octavia E. Butler

"The Color of Law" by Richard Rothstein

?Good Times? (TV series)

"The Word Collector" by Peter H. Reynolds

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected].

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

2021-07-06
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Wilco?s Jeff Tweedy Wants You to Be Bad at Something. It?s for Your Own Good.

Recently, I picked up Jeff Tweedy?s ?How to Write One Song.? It was a bit of a lark. Tweedy is the frontman for Wilco, one of my favorite bands, but I?m not a songwriter, and I don?t plan to become one. But, unexpectedly, I loved the book. It?s the most generous and approachable guide to the creative process I?ve read.

It?s also relentlessly practical: To Tweedy, this really is a process, replete with practices that you can enjoy doing daily. As a writer of a very different sort, I?ve had a blast with them.

So I asked Tweedy to come on the show to talk about creativity, ands his approach to it. He debunks the idea that suffering is necessary (or even useful) for the creative process, talks through his relentless search for inspiration, sings and analyzes a few of my favorite songs, analyzes his relationship with his mother, shares some of his tricks for finding fresh language for old ideas and even convinces me to write some poetry.

This is a fun one.

Book recommendations: 

Don Quixote by Miguel De Cervantes 

A Temple of Texts by William H. Gass

The MacGuffin by Stanley Elkin

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected].

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld, audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

 

2021-07-02
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Why Do We Work So Damn Much?

Historically speaking, we live in an age of extraordinary abundance. We have long since passed the income thresholds when past economists believed our needs would be more than met and we?d be working 15-hour weeks, puzzling over how to spend our free time. And yet, few of us feel able to exult in leisure, and even many of today?s rich toil as if the truest reward for work is more work. Our culture of work would be profoundly puzzling to those who came before us.

James Suzman is an anthropologist who has spent the last 30 years living with and studying the Ju/?hoansi people of southern Africa, one of the world?s enduring hunter-gatherer societies. And that project has given him a unique lens on our modern obsession with work.

As Suzman documents in his new book, ?Work: A Deep History From the Stone Age to the Age of Robots,? hunter-gatherer societies like the Ju/?hoansi spent only about 15 hours a week meeting their material needs despite being deeply impoverished by modern standards. But as we?ve gotten richer and invented more technology, we?ve developed a machine for generating new needs, new desires, new forms of status competition.

So this is a conversation about the past, present and future of humanity?s relationship to work and to want. We discuss what economists get wrong about scarcity, the lessons hunter-gatherer societies can teach us about desire, how the advent of farming radically altered people?s conceptions of work and time, whether there?s such a thing as human nature, the dangers of social and economic inequality, the role of advertising in shaping human desires, whether we should have a wealth tax and universal basic income, and much more.

Mentioned: 

?Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren? by John Maynard Keynes

??Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren? 75 Years after: A Global Perspective? by Fabrizio Zilibotti

?Extreme Jobs: The Dangerous Allure of the 70-Hour Workweek? by Sylvia Ann Hewlett and Carolyn Buck Luce

Book recommendations:  

King Leopold's Ghost by Adam Hochschild

Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake

Other Minds by Peter Godfrey-Smith 

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected]

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris and Kate Sinclair; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld, audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

2021-06-29
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Republicans Are Setting Off a ?Doom Loop? for Democracy

The insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6 failed. Donald Trump is not the president. But at the state level, the Republican war on elections is posting startling wins. They are trying to do what Trump failed to do: neuter elections as a check on Republican power.

A new report by three voting rights groups found that 24 laws have been passed in 14 states this year that will allow state legislatures to ?politicize, criminalize and interfere in election administration.? And a May analysis from the Brennan Center found that Republican-controlled legislatures in 14 states have passed 22 laws that made voting harder, with dozens of others currently moving through the legislative process.

This is an example of what I?ve sometimes referred to as the ?doom loop of democracy?: highly gerrymandered Republican state legislatures in key swing states passing legislation that gives them more power to discourage Democratic-leaning groups from voting, throw out legitimate votes and overturn election results ? all of it backed up by Republican-dominated courts.

Ari Berman is a senior reporter at Mother Jones and the author of ?Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America.? He?s done excellent coverage of these state bills. So I wanted to bring him on, in part, to understand these bills on a more detailed level: What do they actually do? What kind of impact will they have?

But we also discuss the Republican Party?s minoritarian path to power, potential nightmare 2024 election scenarios, how voting rights became a culture war issue, whether the United States is becoming a ?competitive authoritarianism? political system, why the biggest scandal in American democracy is what?s legal and even expected, what HR1 ? even if it had passed ? would and wouldn?t have fixed and much more.

Mentioned in this episode: 

?What Georgia?s Voting Law Really Does? by Nick Corasaniti and Reid J. Epstein

?The Insurrection Was Put Down. The GOP Plan for Minority Rule Marches On.? by Ari Berman 

?Call it authoritarianism? by Zack Beauchamp

?Statement of Concern: The Threats to American Democracy and the Need for National Voting and Election Administration Standards? by multiple

?Advantage, GOP? by By Laura Bronner and Nathaniel Rakich

?2020 Census: What the Reapportionment Numbers Mean? by Dave Wasserman

Recommendations: 

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John le Carré

Race and Reunion by David Blight

Dirty Work by Eyal Press

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected]

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris and Kate Sinclair; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld, audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

2021-06-25
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Sarah Schulman?s Radical Approach to Conflict, Communication and Change

Sarah Schulman?s work ? as a nonfiction writer, novelist, activist, playwright and filmmaker ? confronts the very thing most people try to avoid: conflict. Schulman, far from running from it, believes we need more of it.

This was true in Schulman?s 2016 book, ?Conflict Is Not Abuse,? which argues that people often mislabel conflict as abuse without recognizing the power that they have to potentially abuse others. Viewing oneself as a victim can be one way to earn compassion. But powerful groups often use their perceived victimhood as an excuse to harm those who are more vulnerable. And more individually, people often don?t see when they have power, and they often fear or dodge the work of repair. It?s a challenging and prescient book, with a deep faith in the healing power of not just communication, but of collision.

Schulman?s latest book, ?Let the Record Show,? is a history of ACT UP New York, the direct-action group that reshaped AIDS activism in the late ?80s and early ?90s. It?s a book about necessary conflicts: between the AIDS community and the U.S. government, and between queer people and a widely homophobic society. But it?s also about conflict among people who generally agree with one another and are working toward a common goal. Schulman calls the book ?a political history,? but it?s also a work of political theory: a proposal for how social movements can become more effective by embracing dissensus rather than striving for consensus.

We began this conversation discussing ACT UP, conflict and Schulman?s theory of political change. But we also ended up discussing Israel and Palestine, a topic she has written widely about. And Schulman shares her thoughts on contemporary L.G.B.T.Q. politics and what she thinks has been lost as queer culture has become more mainstream.

Mentioned in this episode: 

Let the Record Show: A Political History of ACT UP New York, 1987-1993 by Sarah Schulman 

Conflict Is Not Abuse: Overstating Harm, Community Responsibility, and the Duty of Repair by Sarah Schulman

Recommendations: 

Poor Queer Studies: Confronting Elitism in the University by Matt Brim

Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All by Martha S. Jones

Memorial Drive: A Daughter?s Memoir by Natasha Trethewey

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected]

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld, audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

2021-06-22
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Welcome to the ?Take This Job and Shove It? Economy

This is a strange moment in the economy. Wages are up, but so is inflation. Jobs are growing, but maybe not fast enough. Quit rates are at a 21st-century high. It isn?t clear what?s a trend, what?s a blip, what?s a transition and what?s now normal. And all this as the virus continues to stalk us and we process the trauma of the last 18 months.

?We all will have various times in our life where we?ll stop and say, ?Whoa ? am I going in the right direction? Is this the right occupation for me? Should I do something differently??? says Betsey Stevenson. ?But I can?t think of any other time when it?s been a correlated shock across the entire country, where we?ve all been faced ? no, forced ? to ask questions.?

Stevenson is an economist, and a highly accomplished one at that. She served as the chief economist of Barack Obama?s Department of Labor and later a member of Obama?s Council of Economic Advisers. Now she?s a professor of public policy and economics at the University of Michigan, as well as co-host of the podcast ?Think Like an Economist.? She has a rare talent to blend a rigorous approach to labor market economics with a recognition that people ? our psychologies and fears and dreams ? matter, and they shape our economic decisions. Particularly now.

So I invited Stevenson on the show to discuss the big picture of what?s happening right now in the U.S. economy ? wages, employment, inflation and the animal spirits driving much of it. She didn?t disappoint. I came away from this conversation far less confused than when I walked into it.

Mentioned in this episode: 

?The Jobs Report Takeaway: A Huge Reallocation of People and Work Is Underway? by Betsey Stevenson 

?Examining the uneven and hard-to-predict labor market recovery? by Lauren Bauer, Arindrajit Dube, Wendy Edelberg, and Aaron Sojourner

?Why we got more inflation than I expected? by Matt Yglesias

?Do Hiring Headaches Imply a Labor Shortage?? by Paul Krugman

Recommendations: 

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

The Undercover Economist Strikes Back by Tim Hartford 

Career and Family by Claudia Goldin

If you enjoyed this episode, check out our previous podcast ?Employers Are Begging for Workers. Maybe That?s a Good Thing? with Cornell political scientist Jamila Michener 

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected]

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld, audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

2021-06-18
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The Freeing of the American Mind

Free minds. Freedom fries. Free speech. The Freedom Caucus. Freedom from. Freedom to. What do Americans really mean when they talk about freedom?

Louis Menand?s ?The Free World? is a 700-plus-page intellectual history of the Cold War period that traces the opening of the American mind to new ideas in art, literature, politics, music, foreign policy, criticism, higher education and campus activism. John Cage was making silent music, Jackson Pollock was throwing paint on canvases, Pauline Kael was giving us permission to actually enjoy movies. Thinkers like James Baldwin, Isaiah Berlin and Hannah Arendt were arguing over what it meant to be free. Liberatory movements were trying to actually make Americans free. But what did it all get us? Out of all this ferment and conflict, what forms of freedom did Americans secure, and which did we lose?

It?s hard to think of a writer better suited to explain the art and intellectual culture of the Cold War than Louis Menand. In his writing for The New Yorker and his Pulitzer Prize-winning book ?The Metaphysical Club,? Menand has shown how ideas are born out of interactions between individuals and larger historical forces, and how philosophical traditions like pragmatism, Transcendentalism and abolitionism continue to profoundly shape our world.

In this conversation, we talk about the opening of the American mind, the rise of the American market and the narrowing of American politics. We discuss the avant-garde artists of the age and why Martin Luther King Jr.?s vision for equity has been lost. Oh, and how today?s elite universities are built atop the legacy of 1960s campus radicalism, whether the Beat writers were actually the rebels they?re remembered as, why John Cena is apologizing to China for calling Taiwan a country and more.

Mentioned in this episode:

?The Free World? by Louis Menand

Recommendations:

?Tristes Tropiques? by Claude Lévi-Strauss

?Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945? by Tony Judt

?Chance and Circumstance: Twenty Years With Cage and Cunningham? by Carolyn Brown

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected].

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld, audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

2021-06-15
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Sam Altman on the A.I. Revolution, Trillionaires and the Future of Political Power

?The technological progress we make in the next 100 years will be far larger than all we?ve made since we first controlled fire and invented the wheel,? writes Sam Altman in his essay ?Moore?s Law for Everything.? ?This revolution will generate enough wealth for everyone to have what they need, if we as a society manage it responsibly.?

Altman is the C.E.O. of OpenAI, one of the biggest, most important players in the artificial intelligence space. His argument is this: Since the 1970s, computers have gotten exponentially better even as they?re gotten cheaper, a phenomenon known as Moore?s Law. Altman believes that A.I. could get us closer to Moore?s Law for everything: it could make everything better even as it makes it cheaper. Housing, health care, education, you name it.

But what struck me about his essay is that last clause: ?if we as a society manage it responsibly.? Because, as Altman also admits, if he is right then A.I. will generate phenomenal wealth largely by destroying countless jobs ? that?s a big part of how everything gets cheaper ? and shifting huge amounts of wealth from labor to capital. And whether that world becomes a post-scarcity utopia or a feudal dystopia hinges on how wealth, power and dignity are then distributed ? it hinges, in other words, on politics.

This is a conversation, then, about the political economy of the next technological age. Some of it is speculative, of course, but some of it isn?t. That shift of power and wealth is already underway. Altman is proposing an answer: a move toward taxing land and wealth, and distributing it to all. We talk about that idea, but also the political economy behind it: Are the people gaining all this power and wealth really going to offer themselves up for more taxation? Or will they fight it tooth-and-nail?

We also discuss who is funding the A.I. revolution, the business models these systems will use (and the dangers of those business models), how A.I. would change the geopolitical balance of power, whether we should allow trillionaires, why the political debate over A.I. is stuck, why a pro-technology progressivism would also need to be committed to a radical politics of equality, what global governance of A.I. could look like, whether I?m just ?energy flowing through a neural network,? and much more.

Mentioned: 

?Moore?s Law for Everything? by Sam Altman

Recommendations: 

Crystal Nights by Greg Egan

The Last Question by Isaac Asimov

The Gentle Seduction by Marc Stiegler

?Meditations on Moloch? by Scott Alexander 

If you enjoyed this episode, check out our previous conversation ?Is A.I. the Problem? Or Are We??

 

 

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected].

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld, audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

2021-06-11
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Employers Are Begging for Workers. Maybe That?s a Good Thing.

There has been a bit of panic lately over employers who say not enough people want to apply for open jobs. Are we facing a labor shortage? Have stimulus checks and expanded unemployment insurance payments created an economy full of people who don?t want to work ? and who are holding back the economic recovery? That?s one theory, anyway. But it?s leading to real policy change: 25 Republican governors have cut off expanded unemployment benefits early.

You can also tell a different story: The continuing threat of the coronavirus and the ongoing traumas and child care disruptions mean lots of workers don?t feel safe taking jobs in poorly ventilated spaces. Others may be using their stimulus checks and unemployment benefits to let them find a better job than they had before the pandemic, insisting on better pay and conditions. And if so ? isn?t that a policy success?

This is a moment when an implicit but ugly fact of our economy has been thrown into unusual relief: Our economy relies on poverty ? or at least the threat of it ? to force people to take bad jobs at low wages. This gets couched in paeans to the virtues of work, but the truth is more instrumental. The country likes cheap goods and plentiful services, and it can?t get them without a lot of people taking jobs that higher-income Americans would never, ever consider. When we begin to see glimmers of worker power in the economy, a lot of powerful people freak out, all at once.

Jamila Michener is an associate professor of government at Cornell University and a co-director of Cornell?s Center for Health Equity. She does remarkable research on the intersection of race, poverty and public policy and speaks about all of it with uncommon humanity. We discuss the role of poverty in the economy, cultural narratives around work and deservingness, why the less-well-off masses don?t band together politically, how social programs disempower and humiliate the very people they?re ostensibly supposed to help, why it would be so hard to sell a universal basic income, whether the Biden administration?s economic agenda represents a sharp break from those of past administrations and much more.

Mentioned: 

?Fragmented Democracy: Medicaid, Federalism, and Unequal Politics? by Jamila Michener 

Book recommendations: 

Halfway Home by Reuben Miller

Root Shock by Mindy Fullilove

Poorly Understood by Mark Rank, Lawrence Eppard, and Heather Bullock

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected].

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld, audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

2021-06-08
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Is A.I. the Problem? Or Are We?

If you talk to many of the people working on the cutting edge of artificial intelligence research, you?ll hear that we are on the cusp of a technology that will be far more transformative than simply computers and the internet, one that could bring about a new industrial revolution and usher in a utopia ? or perhaps pose the greatest threat in our species?s history.

Others, of course, will tell you those folks are nuts.

One of my projects this year is to get a better handle on this debate. A.I., after all, isn?t some force only future human beings will face. It?s here now, deciding what advertisements are served to us online, how bail is set after we commit crimes and whether our jobs will exist in a couple of years. It is both shaped by and reshaping politics, economics and society. It?s worth understanding.

Brian Christian?s recent book ?The Alignment Problem? is the best book on the key technical and moral questions of A.I. that I?ve read. At its center is the term from which the book gets its name. ?Alignment problem? originated in economics as a way to describe the fact that the systems and incentives we create often fail to align with our goals. And that?s a central worry with A.I., too: that we will create something to help us that will instead harm us, in part because we didn?t understand how it really worked or what we had actually asked it to do.

So this conversation is about the various alignment problems associated with A.I. We discuss what machine learning is and how it works, how governments and corporations are using it right now, what it has taught us about human learning, the ethics of how humans should treat sentient robots, the all-important question of how A.I. developers plan to make profits, what kinds of regulatory structures are possible when we?re dealing with algorithms we don?t really understand, the way A.I. reflects and then supercharges the inequities that exist in our society, the saddest Super Mario Bros. game I?ve ever heard of, why the problem of automation isn?t so much job loss as dignity loss and much more.

Mentioned: 

?Human-level control through deep reinforcement learning?

?Some Moral and Technical Consequences of Automation? by Norbert Wiener

Recommendations: 

"What to Expect When You're Expecting Robots"  by Julie Shah and Laura Major

"Finite and Infinite Games" by James P. Carse 

"How to Do Nothing" by Jenny Odell

If you enjoyed this episode, check out my conversation with Alison Gopnik on what we can all learn from studying the minds of children.

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected]

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

2021-06-04
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Obama Explains How America Went From ?Yes We Can? to ?MAGA?

?My entire politics is premised on the fact that we are these tiny organisms on this little speck floating in the middle of space,? Barack Obama told me, sitting in his office in Washington, D.C.

To be fair, I was the one who had introduced the cosmic scale, asking how proof of alien life would change his politics. But Obama, in a philosophical mood, used the question to trace his view of humanity. ?The differences we have on this planet are real,? he said. ?They?re profound. And they cause enormous tragedy as well as joy. But we?re just a bunch of humans with doubts and confusion. We do the best we can. And the best thing we can do is treat each other better, because we?re all we got.?

Before our interview, I?d read ?A Promised Land,? the first volume of Obama?s presidential memoirs. It had left me thinking about the central paradox of Obama?s political career. He accomplished one of the most remarkable acts of political persuasion in American history, convincing the country to vote, twice, for a liberal Black man named Barack Hussein Obama during the era of the war on terror. But he left behind a country that is less persuadable, more polarized, and more divided. The Republican Party, of course, became a vessel for the Tea Party, for Sarah Palin, for Donald Trump ? a direct challenge to the pluralistic, democratic politics Obama practiced. But the left, too, has struggled with the limits of Obama?s presidency, coming to embrace a more confrontational and unsparing approach to politics.

So this is a conversation with Obama about both the successes and failures of his presidency. We talk about his unusual approach to persuasion, when it?s best to leave some truths unsaid, the media dynamics that helped fuel both his and Trump?s campaigns, how to reduce educational polarization, why he believes Americans have become less politically persuadable, the mistakes he believes were made in the design of the 2009 stimulus and the Affordable Care Act, the ways in which Biden is completing the policy changes begun in the Obama administration, what humans are doing now that we will be judged for most harshly in 100 years, and more.

Mentioned in this episode 

?Why Obamacare enrollees voted for Trump? by Sarah Kliff, Vox

?By 2040, two-thirds of Americans will be represented by 30 percent of the Senate? by Philip Bump, The Washington Post 

?Advantage, GOP? by Laura Bronner and Nathaniel Rakich, FiveThirtyEight

Recommendations: 

"The Overstory" by Richard Powers

"Memorial Drive" by Natasha Tretheway

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected].

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld, audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

2021-06-01
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Sway: How Online Sleuths Pantsed Putin

Today, while I'm on vacation, we're sharing an episode from Sway, a fellow New York Times Opinion podcast. Host Kara Swisher talks to Eliot Higgins, CEO of the open source investigative operation Bellingcat. Kara presses Higgins about the perils of taking on Vladimir Putin and how Bellingcat?s work, which Kara calls ?gumshoe journalism,? differs from online vigilantism.

We'll be back to our regular programming on Tuesday.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected].

The Ezra Klein Show is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld. Special thanks to Shannon Busta and Kristin Lin.

2021-05-28
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The Argument: Should We Cancel Student Loan Debt?

This week, while I'm on vacation, we'll be sharing work from two other New York Times Opinion podcasts. First up, an episode from our friends at The Argument about how to cancel student-loan debt. Host Jane Coaston is joined by activist Astra Taylor and economist Sandy Baum, who agree that addressing the crisis requires dramatic measures but disagree on how to get there.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected].

The Ezra Klein Show is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld. Special thanks to Shannon Busta and Kristin Lin.

2021-05-25
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Violent Crime Is Spiking. Do Liberals Have an Answer?

Early estimates find that in 2020, homicides in the United States increased somewhere between 25 percent and nearly 40 percent, the largest spike since 1960, when formal crime statistics began to be collected. And early estimates indicate that the increase has carried over to 2021.

Violent crime is a crisis on two levels. The first, and most direct, is the toll it takes on people and communities. The lost lives, the grieving families, the traumatized children, the families and businesses that flee, leaving inequality and joblessness for those who remain.

It?s also a political crisis: Violent crime can lead to more punitive, authoritarian and often racist policies, with consequences that shape communities decades later. In the 1970s and ?80s, the politics of crime drove the rise of mass incarceration and warrior policing, the political careers of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, the abandonment of inner cities. If these numbers keep rising, they could end any chance we have of building a new approach to safety, and possibly carry Donald Trump ? or someone like him ? back to the presidency in 2024.

There?s still time. Just this week, Philadelphia?s progressive district attorney, Larry Krasner, handily fended off a primary challenge. But the politics are changing, and fast: Democratic primary voters in New York City say crime and violence is the second most important problem facing the city, behind the coronavirus but ahead of affordable housing and racial injustice. And just a few weeks ago, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta, who was facing political challengers attacking her for being soft on crime, announced she would not seek re-election in the fall.

So do liberals have an answer to violent crime? And if so, what is it?

James Forman Jr. is a professor of law at Yale Law School and the author ?Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America,? for which he received a Pulitzer Prize. In the book, Forman uses Washington, D.C., of the 1970s, ?80s and ?90s as a case study to explore the political and psychological dynamics that rising crime produces. We discuss the toll of living amid both street and state violence; what the crime wave of the ?70s and ?80s did to Black politics; the causes of the ?Great Crime Decline?; the extent to which policing and prisons actually reduce crime; why we should think of violence the way we think of pandemics; the Black community?s complex views of policing; the three-pronged approach liberals should take to safety; and much more.

Mentioned in this episode:

?The Long Reach of Violence? by Patrick Sharkey 

?The U.S. public?s support for being tough on crime has been a main determinant of changes to the incarceration rate? by Peter Enns

?Modeling Contagion Through Social Networks to Explain and Predict Gunshot Violence in Chicago, 2006 to 2014? by Ben Green, Thibaut Horel, and Andrew V. Papachristos

Vox/Data for Progress poll April 2-5, 2021

?State Reforms Reverse Decades of Incarceration Growth? 

Recommendations: 

"Ghettoside" by Jill Leovy 

"Becoming Ms. Burton" by Susan Burton and Cari Lynn

"The Condemnation of Blackness" by Khalil Gibran Muhammad 

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected].

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld, audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

2021-05-21
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The Spectacle of the G.O.P.'s Shrinking Tent

On May 12, House Republicans voted to remove Representative Liz Cheney, the third-ranking Republican in the House, from her leadership post. Her transgression? Vocally rebuking the claim that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump.

But Cheney?s ouster is just the latest plot development in a story about the contemporary G.O.P. that goes back farther than Nov. 3, 2020, and even Nov. 8, 2016. Over the past decade, the party has decimated its former leadership class. John Boehner and Paul Ryan were pushed out. Eric Cantor lost in the primaries. George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush and John McCain were viciously attacked by Donald Trump and his supporters. Cheney is just the latest victim of this ongoing party purge, and she certainly won?t be the last.

So how did the Republican Party get here? And what does that tell us about its future ? and the future of American democracy?

Nicole Hemmer is the author of ?Messengers of the Right: Conservative Media and the Transformation of American Politics,? an associate research scholar with the Obama Presidency Oral History Project and a host of the podcasts ?Past/Present? and ?This Day in Esoteric Political History.? A political historian by training, she has followed the development of the contemporary Republican Party as closely as anyone, with specific attention to the role right-wing media has played in the party?s development.

We discuss how Republican Party loyalty has morphed into unwavering fealty to Donald Trump; whether the G.O.P. is a postpolicy party; the vicious feedback loop between the G.O.P. base, right-wing media and Republican politicians; how the party of Lincoln became a party committed to minority rule; Hemmer?s grim outlook on what the current G.O.P.?s behavior will mean for the future of American democracy; and much more.

Mentioned in the episode:

"Messengers of the Right: Conservative Media and the Transformation of American Politics" by Nicole Hemmer

?Living in the World of Pants-on-Fire Lies,? by Nicole Hemmer, CNN

?George W. Bush Is a Flawed Messenger for Republicans,? by Nicole Hemmer, CNN

Recommendations:

"Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America" by Kathleen Belew

"Gods of the Upper Air: How a Circle of Renegade Anthropologists Reinvented Race, Sex and Gender in the Twentieth Century" by Charles King

"The Fire Is Upon Us: James Baldwin, William F. Buckley Jr. and the Debate Over Race in America" by Nicholas Buccola

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected].

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld, audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

2021-05-18
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Status Games, Polyamory and the Merits of Meritocracy

Agnes Callard is an ethical philosopher who dissects, in dazzlingly precise detail, familiar human experiences that we think we understand. Whether her topic is expressing anger, fighting with others, jockeying for status, giving advice, or navigating jealousy, Callard provokes us to rethink the emotions and habits that govern how we live. She also happens to be one of my favorite columnists.

In this conversation, I wanted to hear what Callard had to say about a tangle of topics we?ve explored before on the show: how we measure and trade status, and how that feeds into the amorphous thing we call ?the meritocracy.? Callard?s argument is that we can have a ?non-punitive? meritocracy, one that rewards us for our (virtuous) successes but doesn?t blame us for our failures. I?m not so sure, but it?s a fantastic conversation I?m still thinking about.

But as they say on the infomercials ? that?s not all! We also talk about why advice is useless, the benefits of jealousy, whether polyamory and monogamy suffer from the same problem, sad music, why Callard?s office is such a riot of color, and the secret to a good divorce. And, at the end, I?ve got some music recommendations for you. Enjoy!

Mentioned in this episode:

?Who Wants to Play the Status Game?? by Agnes Callard, The Point

?Against Advice,? by Agnes Callard, The Point

?The Other Woman,? by Agnes Callard, The Point

?Parenting and Panic,? by Agnes Callard, The Point

"Aspiration" by Agnes Callard

Recommendations:

"Tolstoy: A Russian Life" by Rosamund Bartlett

"Pessoa: A Biography" by Richard Zenith

"Augustine of Hippo" by Peter Brown

?Real Death? by Mount Eerie

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected].

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld, audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

2021-05-14
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Michael Lewis Is Asking the Right Question

Michael Lewis?s new book, ?The Premonition,? is about one of the most important questions of this moment: Why, despite having the most money, the brightest minds and the some of the most robust public health infrastructure in the world, did the United States fail so miserably at handling the Covid-19 pandemic? And what could we have done differently?

The villain of Lewis?s story is not Donald Trump; it?s the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The argument laced through the book is that the C.D.C. was too passive, too unwilling to act on uncertain information, too afraid of making mistakes, too interested in its public image. What we needed was earlier shutdowns, frank public messaging, a more decentralized testing regime, a public health bureaucracy more willing to stand up to the president.

Lewis is asking the right question, and I agree with much of his critique. But I?m skeptical of whether the kind of pandemic response he lionizes in the book was ever possible for America. Put another way: How much of a constraint is the public on public health?

Lewis and I discuss the trade-offs in pandemic prevention, why bureaucracies have such a difficult time managing catastrophic risk, the messy politics of pandemics, the lessons of the masking debate, and ultimately, what the United States needs to learn from this crisis to prepare for the next one. I?m not sure Lewis and I came to agreement, but I?m still thinking about the conversation weeks later.

Mentioned in this episode: 

?Public policy and health in the Trump era,? The Lancet 

Recommendations: 

"Klara and the Sun" by Kazuo Ishiguro

"Young Men and Fire" by Norman McLean 

"Furious Hours" by Casey Cep

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected].

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld, audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

2021-05-11
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Elizabeth Warren on What We Get Wrong About Inequality

One lesson of covering policy over the past 20 years is that whatever Elizabeth Warren is thinking about now is what Washington is going to be talking about next.

So when I read Senator Warren?s new book, ?Persist,? I read it with an eye toward that question: Where is Warren trying to drive the policy debate next? And two answers emerged. First, toward a truly pro-family progressivism, one that puts children?s well-being and care at the center of the agenda. And second, toward a view of inequality that puts wealth, not income, first, and builds a whole different set of economic priorities atop that analysis.

Warren was a policy wonk before she was a politician, and that?s the kind of conversation we had here. We discuss the drivers of the rising costs of child care, the stagnation in women?s labor force participation, whether universal day care discriminates against stay-at-home parents, Warren?s plan for fixing America?s housing crisis, whether billionaires are a policy failure, the distributional effects of canceling $50,000 in student debt, the social philosophy behind Warren?s tax proposals, how markets can be channeled toward progressive ends, the coming technologies that excite Warren, and much more.

Recommendations: 

"Heart of Fire" by Mazie Hirono

"Before the Coffee Gets Cold" by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

"John Rain" Book Series by Barry Eisler

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected].

?The Ezra Klein Show? is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld, audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

2021-05-07
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