The Ezra Klein Show

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Reviews: 20

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 Jun 3, 2022


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 Mar 21, 2022

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 Feb 8, 2022

Kate
 Jan 16, 2022
Ezra's show is always thought provoking, and focuses on really thinking through arguments rather than hot takes. I love how eclectic the subjects can be - yes, plenty of talk about politics and policy, but also conversations about philosophy and parenthood and all sorts of other things that are fun to think about. An intellectual balm for the 2022 media madness

Description

*** Named a best podcast of 2021 by Time, Vulture, Esquire and The Atlantic. *** 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?

Episode Date
The Single Best Guide I’ve Heard to the Supreme Court’s Rightward Shift
01:34:50

In the past few weeks alone, the Supreme Court has delivered a firestorm of conservative legal victories. States now have far less leeway to restrict gun permits. The right to abortion is no longer constitutionally protected. The Environmental Protection Agency has been kneecapped in its ability to regulate carbon emissions, and by extension, all executive branch agencies will see their power significantly diminished.

But to focus only on this particular Supreme Court term is to miss the bigger picture: In the past few decades, conservative court majorities have dragged this country’s laws to the right on almost every issue imaginable. Shelby County v. Holder gutted the Voting Rights Act and opened the door for states to pass restrictive voting laws. Rucho v. Common Cause limited the court’s ability to curb partisan gerrymandering. Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission unleashed a torrent of campaign spending. Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 weakened unions. A whole slew of cases, including some decided on the shadow docket during the Covid-19 pandemic, undercut federal agencies’ power to help govern in an era of congressional gridlock. And that’s only a partial list.

Kate Shaw is a law professor at Cardozo School of Law, a co-host of the legal podcast Strict Scrutiny and a former clerk for Justice John Paul Stevens. In this episode, she walks me through the most significant Supreme Court cases over the past 20 years, from the court’s decision to hand George W. Bush the presidency in 2000, to the dismantling of the Voting Rights Act, to the assertion of an individual’s right to bear arms.

Along the way, we discuss the right’s decades-long effort to transform American law from the bench, how Republican-appointed judges have consistently entrenched Republican political power, the interpretive bankruptcy of constitutional originalism, how the Warren Court radicalized the conservative legal movement, what might happen to decisions like Obergefell v. Hodges now that the court majority seems to be so comfortable throwing out precedent, what cases to watch in the Roberts Court’s next term, and more.

Mentioned:

After Citizens United: How Outside Spending Shapes American Democracy” by Nour Abdul-Razzak, Carlo Prato and Stephane Wolton

The Most Important Study in the Abortion Debate” by Annie Lowrey

Book recommendations:

The Turnaway Study by Diana Greene Foster

Torn Apart by Dorothy Roberts

Who Decides? by Jeffrey S. Sutton

51 Imperfect Solutions by Jeffrey S. Sutton

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Annie Galvin and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris, Rollin Hu, Mary Marge Locker and Kate Sinclair; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Isaac Jones; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin, Kristina Samulewski, David A. Kaplan, Ian Millhiser, Aziz Rana and Kate Redburn.

Jul 01, 2022
The Supreme Court Went Off the Rails Long Before Dobbs
01:06:18

On Friday, a Supreme Court majority voted to overturn Roe v. Wade. On Sunday, we released an episode with Dahlia Lithwick that goes through the court’s decision in detail, and we will continue to come out with new episodes on the ruling — and its vast implications — in the days and weeks to come. 

Today, we’re re-airing an episode that we originally released in February of this year with Columbia Law professor Jamal Greene — a conversation that is even more relevant now than it was when we originally released it. The Dobbs ruling may be the most poignant example of how extreme the U.S. Supreme Court has become in recent years, but it’s certainly not the only one. 

“Getting race wrong early has led courts to get everything else wrong since,” writes Greene in his book “How Rights Went Wrong.” But he probably doesn’t mean what you think he means.

How Rights Went Wrong” is filled with examples of just how bizarre American Supreme Court outcomes have become. An information processing company claims the right to sell its patients’ data to drug companies — it wins. A group of San Antonio parents whose children attend a school with no air-conditioning, uncertified teachers and a falling apart school building sue for the right to an equal education — they lose. A man from Long Island claims the right to use his homemade nunchucks to teach the “Shafan Ha Lavan” karate style, which he made up, to his children — he wins.

Greene’s argument is that in America, for specific reasons rooted in our ugly past, the way we think about rights has gone terribly awry. We don’t do constitutional law the way other countries do it. Rather, we recognize too few rights, and we protect them too strongly. That’s created a race to get everything ruled as a right, because once it’s a right, it’s unassailable. And that’s made the stakes of our constitutional conflicts too high. “If only one side can win, it might as well be mine,” Greene writes. “Conflict over rights can encourage us to take aim at our political opponents instead of speaking to them. And we shoot to kill.”

It’s a grim diagnosis. But, for Greene, it’s a hopeful one, too. Because it doesn’t have to be this way. Supreme Court decisions don’t have to feel so existential. Rights like food and shelter and education need not be wholly ignored by the courts. Other countries do things differently, and so can we. 

We also discuss the reason we have courts in the first place, why Greene thinks Germany’s approach to abortion rights could be a model for America, Greene’s case for appointing nearly 200 justices to the U.S. Supreme Court and much more. 

Mentioned: 

“The Dobbs Decision Isn’t Just About Abortion. It’s About Power.” by “The Ezra Klein Show”

Book Recommendations:

Rights Talk by Mary Ann Glendon

Law and Disagreement by Jeremy Waldron

Cult of the Constitution by Mary Anne Franks 

We’re hiring a researcher! You can apply here or by visiting nytimes.wd5.myworkdayjobs.com/News

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Annie Galvin and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris and Kristina Samulewski; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld and Isaac Jones; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski.

Jun 28, 2022
The Dobbs Decision Isn’t Just About Abortion. It’s About Power.
01:13:54

On Friday, a Supreme Court majority voted to overturn Roe v. Wade. Nearly all abortions are already banned in at least nine states, home to 7.2 million women of reproductive age. And it is likely that other bans and restrictions will follow. As the court’s three liberal justices put it in their dissenting opinion, “One result of today’s decision is certain: the curtailment of women’s rights, and of their status as free and equal citizens.”

But this decision doesn’t just represent the end of abortion as a constitutional right; what we’re also witnessing, before our eyes, is a legal regime change — one with striking implications for the future of the court and the country. In their majority opinion on the case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the justices cast aside precedent, the court’s historical norms and evidence-based concerns about how this ruling will disrupt people’s lives. Even Chief Justice John Roberts, a fellow conservative, argued in a concurring opinion that the decision went too far, writing, “The court’s opinion is thoughtful and thorough, but those virtues cannot compensate for the fact that its dramatic and consequential ruling is unnecessary to decide the case before us.”

The Dobbs ruling, in other words, isn’t just about abortion; it’s a conservative court majority flexing its newly unrestrained power.

Dahlia Lithwick is a reporter covering the Supreme Court for Slate, the host of the podcast “Amicus” and someone I turn to whenever I need to understand the court. We discuss what Roe did and what Dobbs changes; why the rights to abortion, contraception and same-sex marriage have a much firmer constitutional basis than conservatives argue; how the majority opinion implicitly threatens those latter two rights, even while claiming to uphold them; why the most revealing opinion in the case is Roberts’s scathing concurrence; why the majority’s absolute disregard for precedent is so terrifying for defenders of the court; the way Justice Samuel Alito’s constitutional originalism freezes past injustices into present law; what the current composition of the court means for the future of liberal governance in America; and more.

Mentioned: 

Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization

There’s a Way to Outmaneuver the Supreme Court, and Maine Has Found It” by Aaron Tang

Book recommendations:

Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train by Howard Zinn

We’re hiring a researcher! You can apply here or by visiting nytimes.wd5.myworkdayjobs.com/News

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Annie Galvin and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris, Rollin Hu, Mary Marge Locker and Kate Sinclair; mixing and original music by Isaac Jones; additional engineering by Pat McCusker; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski.

Jun 26, 2022
The Case for Prosecuting Trump
01:10:02

The Jan. 6 hearings have made it clear that Donald Trump led a concerted, monthslong effort to overturn a democratic election. The extensive interviews — over 1,000 — that the House select committee conducted prove that Trump was told there was no evidence of election fraud, but he pressed his anti-democratic case regardless. And it appears that the hearings may be making an impact on public opinion: An ABC News/Ipsos survey released Sunday found that 58 percent of respondents believe Trump should be charged with a crime for his role in the Jan. 6 attack, up from 52 percent in April.

But after all the evidence comes to light, will he actually face legal consequences? If the answer is no, then what might future presidents — including, perhaps, Trump himself — be emboldened to do? And what would that mean for the future of the American political system?

Jamelle Bouie is a Times Opinion columnist and co-host of the podcast “Unclear and Present Danger.” Bouie brings a remarkable historical depth to his writing about American politics. His columns about Jan. 6 — and the troubling idiosyncrasies of Trump’s presidency before it — have shown how the former president’s illiberal actions have threatened the constitutional foundation of American government. So I asked him on the show to help me process the Jan. 6 hearings with an eye to America’s past, and also to its uncertain future.

We discuss why Jan. 6 may be not just an insurrection but “a kind of revolution or, at least, the very beginning of one”; how the anti-democratic nature of the American Constitution makes our system vulnerable to demagogues like Trump; the most important takeaways from the hearings so far; what could happen in 2024 if Trump is allowed to walk free; what Trump allies are already doing to gain power over elections; why refusing to prosecute Trump would itself be a “radical act”; why Republicans have grown increasingly suspicious of — and hostile to — representative democracy; why Bouie thinks prosecuting Trump would be worth the political fallout it would cause; and more.

Mentioned:

Trump Had a Mob. He Also Had a Plan.” by Jamelle Bouie

America Punishes Only a Certain Kind of Rebel” by Jamelle Bouie

Prosecute Trump? Put Yourself in Merrick Garland’s Shoes.” by Jack Goldsmith

Book recommendations:

Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men by Eric Foner

Salmon P. Chase by Walter Stahr

What It Took to Win by Michael Kazin

We're hiring a researcher! You can apply here or by visiting nytimes.wd5.myworkdayjobs.com/News

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Annie Galvin and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris, Rollin Hu, Mary Marge Locker and Kate Sinclair; mixing and original music by Isaac Jones; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski.

Jun 24, 2022
Two Years Later, We Still Don’t Understand Long Covid. Why?
00:57:17

Depending on the data you look at, between 10 and 40 percent of people who get Covid will still have symptoms months later. For some, those symptoms will be modest. A cough, some fatigue. For others, they’ll be life-altering: Debilitating brain fog. Exhaustion. Cardiovascular problems. Blood clotting.

This is what we call long Covid. It’s one term for a vast range of experiences, symptoms, outcomes. It’s one term that may be hiding a vast range of maladies and causes. So what do we actually know about long Covid? What don’t we know? And why don’t we know more than we do?

Dr. Lekshmi Santhosh is an assistant professor at UCSF Medical Center, and the founder and medical director of UCSF’s long Covid and post-ICU clinic. Her clinic opened in May 2020 and was one of the first to focus on treating long Covid patients specifically. We discuss the wildly broad range of symptoms that can qualify as long Covid; the confusing overlaps between Covid symptoms and other diseases; whether age, race, sex and pre-existing conditions affect a person’s chances of contracting long Covid; why it’s so difficult to answer a seemingly simple question like, “How many people have gotten long Covid?”; what to make of a recent study that seemingly undermines the biological existence of long Covid; how worried we should be about correlations between Covid and medical disasters like heart attacks, strokes and abnormal blood clotting; and more.

Mentioned:

Post–COVID Conditions Among Adult COVID-19 Survivors Aged 18–64 and ≥65 Years — United States, March 2020–November 2021” by Lara Bull-Otterson, Sarah Baca1, Sharon Saydah, Tegan K. Boehmer, Stacey Adjei, Simone Gray and Aaron M. Harris

Long COVID after breakthrough SARS-CoV-2 infection” by Ziyad Al-Aly, Benjamin Bowe and Yan Xie

A Longitudinal Study of COVID-19 Sequelae and Immunity: Baseline Findings” by Michael C. Sneller, C. Jason Liang, Adriana R. Marques, et al.

Positive Epstein–Barr virus detection in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients” by Ting Chen, Jiayi Song, Hongli Liu, Hongmei Zheng and Changzheng Chen

Risk factors and disease profile of post-vaccination SARS-CoV-2 infection in UK users of the COVID Symptom Study app” by Michela Antonelli, Rose S. Penfold, Jordi Merino, Carole H. Sudre, Erika Molteni, Sarah Berry, et al.

Understanding and Improving Recovery From COVID-19” by Aluko A. Hope

Markers of Immune Activation and Inflammation in Individuals With Postacute Sequelae of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 Infection” by Michael J. Peluso, Scott Lu, Alex F. Tang, Matthew S. Durstenfeld, et al.

Book Recommendations:

In Shock by Dr. Rana Awdish

Every Deep-Drawn Breath by Wes Ely

Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder

We're hiring a researcher! You can apply here or by visiting nytimes.wd5.myworkdayjobs.com/News

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Haylee Millikan and Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin, Kristina Samulewski, Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly and Lauren Nichols.

Jun 21, 2022
The End of 'The Everything Bubble'
01:11:53

This week, the S&P 500 entered what analysts refer to as a bear market. The index has plunged around 22 percent from its most recent peak in January. Many growth stocks and crypto assets have crashed double or triple that amount.

New home sales declined 17 percent in April, causing some analysts to argue that the housing market has peaked. And, in response to rising inflation, the Federal Reserve just approved its largest interest rate increase since 1994, meaning asset prices could dip even lower.

To understand what’s happening in the stock market right now, you have to understand the era that preceded it. Rana Foroohar is a columnist at The Financial Times, and the author of several books on the economy including “Makers and Takers” and “Don’t Be Evil.” Her view is that a decade-plus of loose monetary policy has been the economic equivalent of a “sugar high,” which kept the prices of stocks, housing and other assets going up and up and up, even as the fundamentals of the economy have been eroding. This “everything bubble,” as she calls it, was bound to burst — and that’s exactly what she thinks is happening right now.

So I wanted to have her on the show to discuss the economic choices — and lack thereof — that led to this point. We also discuss why the increasing power of the financial sector hasn’t resulted a stronger economy, whether the housing market has indeed hit its peak, the massive missed opportunity for public investment while interest rates were low, why policymakers treat asset price inflation so differently from other types of inflation, the true costs of the meat we eat and clothes we wear, why crypto represents the apotheosis of hyper-financialized capitalism, why I’m skeptical of the argument that we’re moving rapidly toward a less globalized world and more.

Book recommendations:

All That She Carried by Tiya Miles

Beautiful Country by Qian Julie Wang

The Rise and Fall of the Neoliberal Order by Gary Gerstle

We're hiring a researcher! You can apply here or by visiting nytimes.wd5.myworkdayjobs.com/News

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris and Andrea López Cruzado; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski.

Jun 17, 2022
Is Climate Change a Reason to Avoid Having Children? and Other Listener Questions Answered
01:15:29

It’s that time of year, when we invite listeners to send in questions, and I answer them on the air. And as usual, you delivered. I’m joined by my producer Annie Galvin, who asks me some of the most intriguing questions of the many we received: Is climate change a reason to forgo having kids? What would happen if Trump were allowed to return to Twitter, in the event of an Elon Musk acquisition? Should Biden run again in 2024? Is wokeness killing the Democratic Party?

We also discuss the recent congressional hearing about U.F.O. sightings; whether it’s a good thing that so many talented young people are going to work in consulting, finance and corporate law; the worrisome anti-institutional direction of the Republican Party; why government is failing to deliver on liberals’ policies and promises — and how to start fixing that problem; whether Americans’ distrust in institutions is warranted; why I could use some recommendations for a good reading chair; and more.

Mentioned:

We're hiring a researcher! You can apply here or by visiting nytimes.wd5.myworkdayjobs.com/News

Your Kids Are Not Doomed” by Ezra Klein

Empirically Grounded Technology Forecasts and the Energy Transition” by Rupert Way, Matthew Ives, Penny Mealy and J. Doyne Farmer

Ibram X. Kendi on What Conservatives — and Liberals — Get Wrong About Antiracism” by The Ezra Klein Show

A Different Way of Thinking About Cancel Culture” by Ezra Klein

Public Citizens by Paul Sabin

This Is Why Your Holiday Travel Is Awful” by Marc J. Dunkelman

Are We More Polarized? Or Just Weirder?” by The Ezra Klein Show

Donald Trump Didn’t Hijack the G.O.P. He Understood It.” by The Ezra Klein Show

Robert Sapolsky on the Toxic Intersection of Poverty and Stress” by Vox Conversations

Book Recommendations:

Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman

The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf

Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney

Music Recommendations:

Spring 1” by Max Richter

Christian Löffler

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“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. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski.

Jun 14, 2022
Socialism Is Supposed to Be a Working-Class Movement. Why Isn’t It?
01:11:13

American socialists today find themselves in a tenuous position. Over the past decade, the left has become a powerful force in American politics. Bernie Sanders seriously contested two presidential primaries. Democratic socialists have won local, state and congressional races. Organizations like Democratic Socialists of America and socialist publications like Jacobin have become part of the political conversation.

But the progressive left’s successes have been largely concentrated in well-educated, heavily blue districts, and the movement that claims to represent the interests of workers consistently fails to make meaningful inroads with working-class voters. As a result, socialists have struggled to build broad, lasting political power at any level of government.

“We might feel more confident about the prospects for the left if, rather than a momentary shift leftward in liberal economic priorities or the rhetoric of certain parts of the mainstream media, there had been deeper inroads made among workers,” writes Bhaskar Sunkara. “There have been rare exceptions, but on the whole, it would be delusional to say that our ideological left has made a decade of progress merging with a wider social base.”

Sunkara is the founding editor of Jacobin and the president of The Nation, two of the leading publications on the American left. He recently published an issue of Jacobin titled “The Left in Purgatory,” which attempts to grapple with the left’s failures, interrogate its political strategies and chart a path for American socialists to win over more working-class voters. So I invited him on the show to lay out where the left is now, and where he thinks it needs to go next.

We discuss whether the left learned the wrong lessons from the Sanders 2016 campaign, why working-class voters across the world have increasingly abandoned left-wing parties, the fundamental error in Sanders’s theory of the 2020 electorate, why winning over working-class voters is just as much about a candidate’s aesthetic as it is about policy, why Sunkara is pessimistic that the socialists who came after Bernie will be able to match his widespread appeal, the “end of the A.O.C. honeymoon” on the left, what a “supply-side socialism” could look like, the tension between the left’s desire for government to do big things and its skepticism of concentrated power, why it costs so much to build in America, why Sunkara is worried about America’s “thin associative democracy” and more.

Mentioned:

Brahmin Left versus Merchant Right: Changing Political Cleavages in 21 Western Democracies, 1948-2020” by Amory Gethin, Clara Martínez-Toledano and Thomas Piketty

Infrastructure issue from Jacobin

"The End of the A.O.C. Honeymoon" by Natalie Shure

Book recommendations:

Socialism: Past and Future by Michael Harrington

The Age of Extremes by Eric Hobsbawm

The South by Adolph L. Reed, Jr.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris, Rollin Hu and Kate Sinclair; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski.

Jun 10, 2022
Thomas Piketty’s Case For ‘Participatory Socialism’
01:01:10

The French economist Thomas Piketty is arguably the world’s greatest chronicler of economic inequality. For decades now, he has collected huge data sets documenting the share of income and wealth that has flowed to the top 1 percent. And the culmination of much of that work, his 2013 book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” quickly became one of the most widely read and cited economic texts in recent history.

Piketty’s new book, “A Brief History of Equality,” is perhaps his most optimistic work. In it, he chronicles the immense social progress that the U.S. and Europe have achieved over the past few centuries in the form of rising educational attainment, life expectancy and incomes. Of course, those societies still contain huge inequalities of wealth. But in Piketty’s view, this outcome isn’t an inevitability; it’s the product of policy choices that we collectively make — and could choose to make differently. And to that end, Piketty proposes a truly radical policy agenda — a universal minimum inheritance of around $150,000 per person, worker control over the boards of corporations and “confiscatory” levels of wealth and income taxation — that he calls “participatory socialism.”

So this conversation isn’t just about the current state of inequality; it’s about the kind of policies — and politics — it would take to solve that inequality. We discuss why wealth is a far more accurate indicator of social power than income, the quality of the historical data that Piketty’s work relies on, why Piketty believes the welfare state — not capitalism itself — is the most important driver of human progress, why representative democracy hasn’t led to more economic redistribution, whether equality is really the best metric to measure human progress in the first place, how Piketty would pay for his universal inheritance proposal, whether the levels of taxation he is proposing would stifle innovation and wreck the economy, why he believes it would be better for societies — and economic productivity — for workers to have a much larger say in how companies are governed, how Piketty thinks about the prospect of inflation and more.

Mentioned:

The Great Leveler by Walter Scheidel

Anne Applebaum on What Liberals Misunderstand About Authoritarianism” by The Ezra Klein Show

Book Recommendations:

The Great Demarcation by Rafe Blaufarb

The Emergence of Globalism by Or Rosenboim

The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt

We're hiring a researcher! You can apply here or by visiting nytimes.wd5.myworkdayjobs.com/News

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“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. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski.

Jun 07, 2022
A Conservative's View on Democrats' Biggest Weakness
01:16:51

“There is definitely a contest for the future of the center right,” says Reihan Salam, the president of the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank. In his telling, one side in this contest is “deeply pessimistic about the prospect of a diversifying America, explicitly anti-urban and increasingly willing to embrace redistribution and centralized power,” more so than conservatism before Donald Trump. This populist right has received a lot of attention since Trump’s election, and we’ve done other shows to try to understand it.

But Salam is advancing a very different set of ideas with a very different theory of the electorate. He’s identified what he sees as a core fissure between the progressive elites who run the Democratic Party and the working-class voters of color who make up a large part of its base — particularly on issues of race and gender. And he believes that by putting forward an “urban conservative” agenda centered on education, housing and public safety, Republicans can exploit those internal cleavages and begin to win over demographics that have been central to the Democratic coalition.

So for the final episode in our “The Rising Right” series, I wanted to use Salam’s thoughts to explore this alternate path for the American right. We discuss why the Republican Party has turned against major cities, whether antiracism is the right framework for addressing racial inequality, why he believes that children of Latino and Asian immigrants could become a core G.O.P. constituency, the difference between antiracism and “antiracialism,” the tactics of the anti-critical-race-theory movement, why he thinks there’s been an “overcorrection” on the right in favor of state power and redistribution, what a supply-side conservatism beyond just tax cuts could look like, why he believes we could be entering an era of “fiscal constraints” that could radically reshape policymaking on both the left and right and more.

Mentioned:

The Anti-C.R.T. Movement and a Vision For a New Right Wing” by Jay Caspian Kang

America Needs Anti-Racialism” by Reihan Salam

Ibram X. Kendi on What Conservatives — and Liberals — Get Wrong About Antiracism” by The Ezra Klein Show

Prison-Gang Politics” by Christopher F. Rufo

Book recommendations:

Classified by David E. Bernstein

Criminal (In)Justice by Rafael A. Mangual

Sir Vidia’s Shadow by Paul Theroux

The Strategy of Denial by Elbridge A. Colby

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris, Rollin Hu and Mary Marge Locker; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing and engineering by Jeff Geld; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski.

Jun 03, 2022
Sex, Abortion and Feminism, as Seen From the Right
01:25:36

For decades, the conservative position on abortion has been simple: Appoint justices who will overturn Roe V. Wade. That aspiration is now likely to become reality. The question of abortion rights will re-enter the realm of electoral politics in a way it hasn’t for 50 years. And that means Republicans will need to develop a new politics of abortion — a politics that may appeal not only to their anti-abortion base but to some of the many Americans who believe Roe should stand.

One place those Republicans may look for inspiration is to the work of the legal scholar Erika Bachiochi. She is a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, director of the Wollstonecraft Project at the Abigail Adams Institute and the author of “The Rights of Women: Reclaiming a Lost Vision,” where she argues for a “dignitarian feminism.” Bachiochi embraces women’s gains in professional and civic life but holds that techno-pharmacological birth control, the sexual revolution and the legalization of abortion have created a sexual and family culture that has ultimately been devastating to women’s well-being.

In hopes of improving that status quo, Bachiochi puts forward a policy agenda that could very well become the post-Roe playbook for some Republicans: tighter abortion restrictions combined with a robust slate of family policies — some of which would be even bolder than the Biden administration’s proposals to date. Hers is not an argument I agree with, but it’s one that I imagine will become increasingly salient in a post-Roe America.

In the third episode of our series “The Rising Right,” we discuss Bachiochi’s views on why the “gender revolution” has stalled; her belief that market logic has come to dominate our understandings of family, parenting, sex and feminism; her critique of modern “hookup” culture; and her pro-family economic agenda. And we debate whether it’s realistic to encourage the use of natural fertility regulation over hormonal contraception, how abortion relates to single motherhood and poverty, whether stricter abortion laws might benefit or hurt poor women, what role the law should play in teaching moral behavior, whether progressives have become too “Lockean” in their understanding of bodily autonomy, whether the sexual revolution gave people too much choice and more.

Mentioned:

Defenders of the Unborn by Daniel K. Williams

Generation Unbound by Isabel V. Sawhill

Equal Rights, Equal Wrongs” by Christopher Kaczor

Book recommendations:

Rights Talk by Mary Ann Glendon

Feminism Without Illusions by Elizabeth Fox-Genovese

Public Man, Private Woman by Jean Bethke Elshtain

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Kate Sinclair, Mary Marge Locker and Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing and engineering by Jeff Geld; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski.

May 31, 2022
Best Of: Nikole Hannah-Jones and Ta-Nehisi Coates on the Fight Over U.S. History
01:17:40

What does it mean to reckon with the violence, the tragedy, and the numerous contradictions of America? 

That is the focus of this conversation – originally aired in July of 2021 – with Nikole Hannah-Jones and Ta- Nehisi Coates. On one level, the conversation is a reflection on the fights over teaching critical race theory and the 1619 Project. But it is really focused on the deeper meaning behind those skirmishes: The ongoing fight over the story we tell about America and why that fight has so gripped our national discourse. 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. It's a conversation that feels just as relevant today as when it first aired. 

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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 and Kristina Samulewski.

May 27, 2022
A Conversation With Ada Limón, in Six Poems
01:17:09

​​“One of the biggest things about poetry is that it holds all of humanity,” the poet Ada Limón tells me. “It holds the huge and enormous and tumbling sphere of human emotions.”

When the news feels sodden with violence and division, it can be hard to know where to put the difficult emotions it provokes. Poetry may seem an unlikely destination for those emotions, especially to those who don’t read it regularly. But Limón’s poems are unique for the deep attention they pay to both the world’s wounds and its redemptive beauty. In otherwise dark times, they have the power to open us up to the wonder and awe that the world still inspires.

Limón’s books of poetry — like her 2018 collection, “The Carrying,” which won the National Book Critics Circle Award, and her 2015 collection, “Bright Dead Things” — are filled with meditations on grief and infertility, as well as striking moments of insight about friendship, lust and our fellowship with animals. Her most recent book, “The Hurting Kind,” explores what it means to share the planet with nonhuman beings like birds and trees. Limón describes the marvels of Kentucky’s rural landscape and the dusky beauty of a New York City bar with equal care. Her writing is highly acclaimed by fellow poets and also delightfully accessible to those who have never before picked up a book of poetry.

Limón is a lively reader of her own poetry, so to structure this conversation, I asked her to read a varied selection of her work. We use those readings to discuss what poetry gives us that the news doesn’t, the importance of slowing down in a world that demands speed, how the grief of infertility differs from that of losing a loved one, how to be “in community” with ancestors and animals in lonely times, why Limón loves “chatty” and humorous poems as much as serious ones, why we often have our best thoughts in cars and on planes, how Instagram and Twitter affect our relationship to the world, why Limón meditates every day, how our relationship to excitement changes as we age and more.

Book Recommendations:

Stones by Kevin Young

Frank: Sonnets by Diane Seuss

Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Haylee Millikan; original music by Isaac Jones and Jeff Geld; mixing by Jeff Geld; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin, Kristina Samulewski, Rebecca Elise Foote and Jahan Ramazani.

May 24, 2022
The Ethics of Abortion
01:12:20

When Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization leaked a few weeks ago, it signaled that Roe v. Wade appears likely to be overturned in a matter of weeks. If Roe falls, questions about the right to abortion will re-enter the realm of electoral politics in a way they haven’t for 50 years. States will be solely in charge of determining whether abortion is permitted, under what conditions it should be permitted, and what the appropriate thresholds are for making those decisions.

That means ordinary voters and their representatives will be forced to grapple with the moral — even metaphysical — quandaries at the heart of the abortion debate. What does it mean to belong to the human species, and when does that belonging begin? Is there a bright line at which an egg, a blastula, or a fetus attains the status of “person”? And how do we weigh the competing interests of mothers, families, and fetuses against one another? Those questions are the foundation on top of which abortion law and policy is built.

Kate Greasley is a law professor at the University of Oxford in the U.K., where she studies, among other things, the legal and moral philosophy of abortion. She’s the author of “Arguments About Abortion: Personhood, Morality, and Law,” and co-author of “Abortion Rights: For and Against” alongside Christopher Kaczor, a philosopher who opposes abortion. While Greasley ultimately believes in the right to choose, she does a remarkably comprehensive job of carefully and fairly considering all the arguments, contradictions and nuances of this issue.

We discuss why both progressives and conservatives should be open to questioning their preconceptions about abortion, what the Bible does — and doesn’t — suggest about abortion, why the status of fetal life is the central question at the heart of abortion ethics, whether life begins at conception or emerges later in fetal development, how the complex, messy moral intuitions that most of us have around questions of life and death don’t lend themselves neatly to either an abortion rights or anti-abortion camp, why late-term abortions pose particularly challenging moral questions, how the pregnant person’s bodily autonomy weighs against the fetus’s and more.

Mentioned:

Can Fetuses Feel Pain?” by Stuart Derbyshire

Book recommendations:

Beyond Roe by David Boonin

Abortion: Three Perspectives by Michael Tooley, Celia Wolf-Devine, Philip E. Devine and Alison M. Jaggar

About Abortion by Carol Sanger

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris, Rollin Hu and Kate Sinclair; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing and engineering by Jeff Geld; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski.

May 20, 2022
Anne Applebaum on What Liberals Misunderstand About Authoritarianism
01:02:59

The experience of reading Hannah Arendt’s 1951 classic “The Origins of Totalitarianism” in the year 2022 is a disorienting one. Although Arendt is writing primarily about Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia, her descriptions often capture aspects of our present moment more clearly than those of us living through it can ever hope to.

Arendt writes of entire populations who “had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and that nothing was true.” She describes “the masses’ escape from reality” as “a verdict against the world in which they are forced to live and in which they cannot exist.” She points out that in societies riddled with elite hypocrisy, “it seemed revolutionary to admit cruelty, disregard of human values, and general amorality, because this at least destroyed the duplicity upon which the existing society seemed to rest.”

It’s hard to read statements like these without immediately conjuring up images of Vladimir Putin’s Russia or Donald Trump’s presidency or the QAnon faithful. But that’s exactly the point: The reason Arendt is so relevant today is that her diagnosis doesn’t apply just to the Nazi or Soviet regimes she was writing about. It is more fundamentally about the characteristics of liberal societies that make them vulnerable to distinctly illiberal and authoritarian forces — weaknesses that, in many ways, have only become more pronounced in the 70 years since “The Origins of Totalitarianism” was first released.

Anne Applebaum is a staff writer for The Atlantic and a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian. Her writing — including her most recent book, “Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism” — is focused on the resurgence of autocratic movements and governments around the world, and why members of Western societies have abandoned liberal democratic ideals in favor of strongman leaders, conspiratorial movements and authoritarian regimes. And in the introduction she wrote to a new edition of “The Origins of Totalitarianism,” Applebaum argues that Arendt’s insights are more relevant now than ever.

So this is a conversation that uses Arendt’s analysis as a window into our present. Applebaum and I discuss how “radical loneliness” lays the groundwork for authoritarianism, what Putin and Trump understand about human nature that most liberals miss, the seductive allure of groups like QAnon, the way that modern propaganda feeds off a combination of gullibility and cynicism, whether liberalism’s own logic is making societies vulnerable to totalitarian impulses, why efforts by populist politicians to upend conventional morality have held such appeal in Western liberal democracies, how the ideology of “economism” blinds Western liberals to their own societies’ deepest vulnerabilities, what liberals need to do differently to counteract the rise of global autocracy and more.

Mentioned:

Review of Adolph Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’” by George Orwell

Book Recommendations:

Cuba by Ada Ferrer

The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles

The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris, Rollin Hu, Mary Marge Locker and Kate Sinclair; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski.

May 17, 2022
What Does the ‘Post-Liberal Right’ Actually Want?
01:37:25

“It begun to dawn on many conservatives that in spite of apparent electoral victories that have occurred regularly since the Reagan years, they have consistently lost, and lost overwhelmingly to progressive forces,” Patrick Deneen writes in a recent essay titled “Abandoning Defensive Crouch Conservatism.” He goes on to argue that conservatives need to reject liberal values like free speech, religious liberty and pluralism, abandon their defensive posturing and use the power of the state to actively fight back against what he calls “liberal totalitarianism.”

To progressive ears, these kinds of statements can be baffling; after all, Republicans currently control a majority of state legislatures, governorships and the Supreme Court, and they are poised to make gains in the midterm elections this fall. But even so, there’s a pervasive feeling among conservatives that progressives are using their unprecedented institutional power — in universities, in Hollywood, in the mainstream media, in the C-suites of tech companies — to wage war on traditional ways of life. And many of them have come to believe that the only viable response is to fight back against these advances at all costs. It’s impossible to understand the policies, leaders, rhetoric and tactics of the populist right without first trying to inhabit this worldview.

That is why, for this second conversation in our series “The Rising Right,” I wanted to speak with Deneen. He is a professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame, and his 2018 book, “Why Liberalism Failed,” has become a touchstone within the conservative intelligentsia and was even fairly well received by liberals. But since then, Deneen’s writing has come to express something closer to total political war. And with three other professors, he recently started a Substack newsletter, “The Postliberal Order,” to build the kind of intellectual and political project needed to fight that war.

This is a conversation about what Deneen’s “postliberal” political project looks like — and the tensions and contradictions it reveals about the modern populist right. We discuss (and debate) Deneen’s view that conservatives keep losing, why he believes the left is hostile to the family, whether America needs stricter divorce laws, what the post-liberal right would actually do with power, the virtues and vices of policy analysis, whether post-liberals have built their core arguments around an invented straw man liberalism, Joe Biden’s agenda for families and much more.

Mentioned:

A Good That Is Common” by Patrick Deneen

Replace the Elite” by Patrick Deneen

Abandoning Defensive Crouch Conservatism” by Patrick Deneen

Book recommendations:

The New Class War by Michael Lind

Dominion by Tom Holland

The Art of Loading Brush by Wendell Berry

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris and Rollin Hu; original music by Isaac Jones and Jeff Geld; mixing by Jeff Geld; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski.

May 13, 2022
Sway: 'Fear and Panic Are Bedfellows' in Ukraine
00:42:51

Today we're bringing you an episode from our friends at Sway about the war in Ukraine and the challenges of conflict-zone reporting. 

Clarissa Ward has had, as she puts it, a “long and very complicated relationship” with Russia. The chief international correspondent for CNN, she has had stints in Moscow since the beginning of her career, and has struggled to get a Russian visa since she investigated the 2020 poisoning of the Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny.

But that hasn’t stopped her from reporting on the region, and in particular on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Yet after months of war, it can be an uphill battle to keep the viewers’ attention on the front line. “Our job is to keep finding ways to make sure that we don’t become numb and desensitized to the horrors of war, because that is exactly how wars continue and grind on,” Ward says.

In this conversation, taped last week, Kara talks to Ward about her time reporting in Ukraine, what it’s like to “let fear sit in the passenger seat” when reporting from the front and how the hangover of war can leave correspondents detached from the “bourgeois and banal” normalcy of home.

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more information for all episodes at nytimes.com/sway, and you can find Kara on Twitter @karaswisher.

“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. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski.

May 10, 2022
Donald Trump Didn’t Hijack the G.O.P. He Understood It.
01:22:39

Right now, Republicans of all stripes — Ron DeSantis, J.D. Vance, Mike Pence, Glenn Youngkin — are trying to figure out how to channel the populist energies of Donald Trump into a winning political message. The struggle to achieve such a synthesis is the defining project on the American right today. Its outcome will determine the future of the Republican Party — and American politics.

To understand what the post-Trump future of the G.O.P. will look like, it helps to have a clearer understanding of the party’s past — particularly the chapters that many conservatives prefer to forget. Traditional histories of American conservatism view Donald Trump’s election as an aberration in the lineage of the American right — an unprecedented populist rejection of the conservatism of Ronald Reagan and William F. Buckley Jr.

But Matthew Continetti’s new book “The Right: The Hundred-Year War for American Conservatism” flips that conventional history on its head. In Continetti’s view, the “populist” energies that Trump harnessed in 2016 aren’t anything new for the American right — they have always been central to it. The American right has always been defined by a back-and-forth struggle — and at times a synthesis — between its populist grass roots and its elites.

I wanted to bring Continetti on the show because this history is crucial to understanding where the Republican Party could go next. And also because this is the first episode in a new series we are producing called “The Rising Right.” Over the next few weeks, “The Ezra Klein Show” will feature conversations with conservative writers, scholars and thinkers who are trying to harness the forces that Trump unleashed and build a superstructure of ideas, institutions and policy around them. But to see where that movement is going, you have to take seriously where it came from.

Mentioned:
Can Reaganism Rise Again?” by Ross Douthat

Book Recommendations:
Let Us Talk of Many Things by William F. Buckley Jr.
Making It by Norman Podhoretz
The Prince of Darkness by Robert D. Novak

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris, Mary Marge Locker and Jenny Casas; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski.

May 06, 2022
The Argument: Why the G.O.P. Can't Stop Saying 'Gay'
00:39:04

Today we're bringing you an episode from our friends at The Argument about Florida's “Don't Say Gay” bill and the broader wave of anti-L.G.B.T.Q. legislation, spurred by the political right, that is spreading across the country. According to the Human Rights Campaign, this year alone, more than 300 anti-L.G.B.T.Q. bills have been introduced in state legislatures. 

Why has this issue become a major focus of the Republican Party? And how is the way society treats individuals who identify as L.G.B.T.Q. changing? Jane Coaston speaks to her Times Opinion colleagues Ross Douthat and Michelle Goldberg about these questions and brings a deeply personal perspective to the table.

Mentioned:

How to Make Sense of the New L.G.B.T.Q. Culture War” by Ross Douthat in The New York Times

Gender Unicorn” from Trans Student Educational Resources

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“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. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski.

May 03, 2022
Elon Musk Might Break Twitter. Maybe That's a Good Thing.
01:05:27

If Elon Musk’s bid to purchase Twitter comes to fruition, the world’s richest person will own one of its most important communications platforms. Twitter might have a smaller user base than Facebook, Instagram and even Snapchat, but it shapes the dominant narratives in key industries like politics, media, finance and technology more than any other platform. Attention — particularly that of elite leaders in these industries — is a valuable resource, one that Twitter manages and trades in.

Musk understands Twitter’s attention economy better than anyone. On numerous occasions, his tweets have sent a company’s stock or a cryptocurrency’s value skyrocketing (or plummeting). So what would it mean for Musk to own Twitter? How would that change the platform? How might he use Twitter to change, well, everything else?

Felix Salmon is the chief economics correspondent at Axios, a co-host of the Slate Money podcast and someone who has spent a lot of time thinking about the economics of attention, the way modern financial markets work and how money impacts the technologies we use. We discuss Musk’s possible motivations for owning Twitter, how Musk’s distinct brand of tweeting has reaped financial windfalls, what Musk understands about finance and attention that many others don’t, why Twitter is so powerful as a storytelling machine, why journalists are turning away from it, what a decentralized Twitter might look like, how Web3 resembles the 1960s “back to the land” movement, how Musk could break Twitter — but why that might end up saving Twitter — and more.

Mentioned:

Elon Musk Got Twitter Because He Gets Twitter” by Ezra Klein

"A Crypto Optimist Meets a Crypto Skeptic” on The Ezra Klein Show

A Viral Case Against Crypto, Explored” on The Ezra Klein Show

The Way the Senate Melted Down Over Crypto Is Very Revealing” by Ezra Klein

Book Recommendations:

The Bond King by Mary Childs

Typeset in the Future by Dave Addey

The Surprise of Cremona by Edith Templeton

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Jenny Casas, Michelle Harris, Rollin Hu and Kate Sinclair; original music by Isaac Jones and Carole Sabouraud; mixing by Jeff Geld; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski.

Apr 29, 2022
Putin May Not Like How He’s Changed Europe
01:09:38

Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has transformed Europe within a matter of weeks. A continent once fractured by the refugee crisis is now taking in millions of refugees. Countries such as Germany have made considerable pledges to increase military spending. The European Union said it would cut off Russian oil and gas “well before 2030” — a once unthinkable prospect. The European project seems more confident in itself than at any other time in recent history.

But some European countries are also seeing trends in the opposite direction. This month in Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s nationalist government won re-election easily. The far-right leader Marine Le Pen lost this past weekend’s French presidential election to the incumbent, Emmanuel Macron, but secured a significant 41.5 percent of the vote, up from 33.9 percent in 2017. And nationalist movements — Brexit in Britain, the Five Star Movement in Italy and others — have become potent political forces in recent years.

So what’s next for Europe? Will Putin’s invasion reinvigorate the collective European project? Or will the continent revert to its preinvasion path of fracture, division and nationalism?

Ivan Krastev is the chairman of the Center for Liberal Strategies in Sofia, Bulgaria and the author of numerous books, including “After Europe” and, with Stephen Holmes, “The Light That Failed: Why the West Is Losing the Fight for Democracy.” He’s also one of my favorite people to talk to on the subject of Europe, liberalism, democracy and the tensions therein.

We discuss how European identity went from revolving around war to being centered on economic trade, why Europe has treated the Ukrainian refugee crisis so differently from previous refugee crises, how the West’s overly economic understanding of human motivation blinded it to Putin’s plans, what the relative success of politicians like Le Pen and Orban means for the future of Europe, how fears of demographic change can help explain phenomena as different as Putin’s invasion and Donald Trump’s election, whether Putin’s invasion can reawaken an exhausted European liberalism and much more.

Mentioned:

The End of History?” by Francis Fukuyama

The End of History and the Last Man by Francis Fukuyama

We Are All Living in Vladimir Putin’s World Now” by Ivan Krastev

The Crisis of American Power: How Europeans See Biden’s America” by Ivan Krastev

The Power of the Past: How Nostalgia Shapes European Public Opinion” by Catherine E. de Vries and Isabell Hoffmann from Bertelsmann Stiftung

Book Recommendations:

Free by Lea Ypi

The Age of Unpeace by Mark Leonard

Time Shelter by Georgi Gospodinov

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“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. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski.

Apr 26, 2022
Emily St. John Mandel on Time Travel, Parenting and the Apocalypse
00:59:36

Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel was published in 2014. That book imagined the world after a pandemic had wiped out, well, almost everyone. It’s a gorgeous novel with a particular emotional power: it helps you grieve a life you still have. But then came a real pandemic, not as lethal as the one Mandel imagined, but a shock nonetheless. And “Station Eleven” — already a beloved international best seller — found a second life. Mandel became known as a pandemic prophet. “Station Eleven” became an acclaimed HBO Max series.

Sea of Tranquility” by Mandel is written from within the hothouse of that strange kind of celebrity. The author put a version of herself in there, struggling with fame and parenthood and quarantine and too much travel. But there are also moon colonies, and time travel, and hints that we live in a computer simulation. If “Station Eleven” explores how calamity could change the world, “Sea of Tranquility” wonders what happens if it doesn’t.

This conversation begins in the weirdness of the simulation hypothesis, but winds its way to much more fundamental questions of being human right now. There is so much we could lose, so much we already have lost; why is it so hard to live with the gratitude our lives should inspire, or the seriousness the moment demands?

Mentioned:

The Power of Patience” by Jennifer L. Roberts

This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub

Are We Living in a Computer Simulation?” by Nick Bostrom

Book recommendations:

Scary Monsters by Michelle de Kretser

Ill Will by Dan Chaon

Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“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. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski.

Apr 22, 2022
Can Democrats Turn Their 2022 Around?
01:07:43

With the midterms just over six months away, the electoral prospects for Democrats are looking bleak. President Biden’s approval rating is at 42 percent, around where Donald Trump’s was at this point in his presidency. Recent polls asking whether Americans want Republicans or Democrats in Congress found that Republicans are leading by about 2 percentage points. And with inflation spiking to its highest point in decades, Covid cases rising and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continuing to send economic and humanitarian shock waves across the globe, things don’t look as if they are going to get better anytime soon.

What will it take for Democrats to turn things around? What fights should they be picking with Republicans, and how should they be making the case that they deserve another chance at leading the country?

Sean McElwee is a co-founder and the executive director of Data for Progress, a research organization that gathers polling data to strategize on behalf of progressive causes and policies. Anat Shenker-Osorio is a principal at ASO Communications, a political communications firm that conducts analytic and empirical research to help progressive political campaigns. She also hosts the “Words to Win By” podcast. McElwee and Shenker-Osorio have deeply influenced my thinking on how words work in American politics: how campaigns can meaningfully address what voters want and how they can persuade swing voters and motivate the party’s base.

In this conversation, McElwee and Shenker-Osorio help me understand where Democrats stand with the electorate and what, if anything, they can do to improve their chances in 2022. We discuss why Biden’s approval rating is so low, given the popularity of his policies, why governing parties so often lose midterm elections, whether Democrats should focus more on persuading swing voters or on mobilizing their base, why it’s important for Democrats to get their base to sing from the same songbook, what Democrats can learn from Trump about winning voters’ attention, how Republicans are running politics on easy mode, whether it was wise politically for Biden to double down on the message to fund the police, what political fights Democrats should pick in the lead-up to the midterms, how the party should handle spiking inflation and more.

Mentioned:

"Democrats, Here's How to Lose in 2022. And Deserve It." by Ezra Klein

Book recommendations:

Anat Shenker-Osorio

A Theory of System Justification by John T. Jost

Memorial by Bryan Washington

These Precious Days by Ann Patchett

Sean McElwee

The Course by Ed Miller

The Precipice by Toby Ord

The Climate War by Eric Pooley

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“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. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski.

Apr 19, 2022
Best Of: This Conversation Will Change How You Think About Trauma
01:17:28

“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 over 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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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 and engineering by Jeff Geld, audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski

Apr 15, 2022
A Ukrainian Philosopher on What Putin Never Understood About Ukraine
00:47:55

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is only getting more brutal: We’ve seen the bodies of civilians strewn in the streets in Bucha, the city of Mariupol almost leveled and, just a few days ago, a Russian missile attack on a crowded train station in Kramatorsk killing at least 50 people. The United Nations has confirmed 1,793 civilian deaths in Ukraine, though the actual number is thought to be far higher.

Russia’s viciousness in this campaign makes Ukraine’s resilience all the more remarkable. Ukrainians have defied expectations in staving off Russia’s far larger army and holding cities like Kyiv that some believed might fall within days of an invasion. Much of the commentary in recent weeks has revolved around what this war has revealed about Russia: its myths, its military, its leadership, its threat. What’s no less important, though, is what this war has revealed about Ukraine.

Ukrainians have modeled a deep commitment to self-determination and shown how far they would go to protect it. The Ukrainian philosopher and editor Volodymyr Yermolenko has written that “freedom is the key trait of Ukraine’s identity as a political nation,” and Ukraine’s resistance testifies to how deep that trait runs.

Yermolenko is a philosopher, the editor in chief of UkraineWorld and the editor of the essay collection “Ukraine in Histories and Stories.” I invited Yermolenko onto the show to help me understand how Ukraine has defined itself in relation to the political behemoths to its east and west: Russia and Europe. Our conversation also explores what it has felt like to be in Kyiv as Russian troops have shelled the city, how definitions of time and home change during war, what has — and hasn’t — surprised Yermolenko about the Ukrainian resistance, what people in the West may not understand about the cultural differences between Ukraine and Russia, why Ukraine’s political structure makes it so difficult to conquer, how Ukraine is reminding the West why its republican and humanistic values matter, what Yermolenko would say to President Biden if he could and more.

Mentioned:

Volodymyr Yermolenko, a Ukrainian philosopher, considers his national identity” by Volodymyr Yermolenko

Dreams of Europe” by Volodymyr Yermolenko

Book Recommendations:

Ukraine in Histories and Stories” by Volodymyr Yermolenko

The Gates of Europe” by Serhii Plokhy

Lost Kingdom” by Serhii Plokhy

Chernobyl” by Serhii Plokhy

Blood of Others” by Rory Finnin

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris, Kate Sinclair and Mary Marge Locker; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski.

Apr 12, 2022
Fiona Hill on Whether Ukraine Can Win — and What Happens if Russia Loses
00:47:32

The Russia-Ukraine war has changed considerably in recent weeks. Vladimir Putin is no longer talking explicitly about regime change in Ukraine. The Russian military has shifted its focus away from taking Kyiv and toward making territorial gains in Ukraine’s east. The prospect of an outright Ukrainian victory is no longer out of the question. And negotiations between the parties over a possible settlement appear to be making some progress.

There’s been a darker turn as well: Over the weekend, images surfaced of atrocities committed by the Russian military against Ukrainian civilians. And Western leaders are considering expanding military aid to Ukraine, initiating war crimes investigations and placing harsher sanctions on Russia in response.

Fiona Hill served as deputy assistant to the president and senior director for European and Russian affairs on the National Security Council under Donald Trump and as a national intelligence officer for Russia and Eurasia under Barack Obama and George W. Bush. I had her on the show a few weeks ago to help me make sense of the Russia-Ukraine conflict as it was developing at the time, and it was one of the most illuminating perspectives I’d heard on the topic. So I invited her back to discuss how the situation has changed, where we are now and what the conflict could look like.

We discuss why Hill has become pessimistic about the possibility of a peace deal, how the carnage in Bucha could alter the course of the conflict, why Russia has been so much weaker on the battlefield than expected, whether Ukraine can achieve an outright victory, why this war is making Putin more popular in Russia (not less), what else the West could be doing to support Ukraine, why Hill thinks we’re entering a “much darker” phase of the conflict, what role China could play in bringing about a negotiated settlement, what a renewed framework for European security could look like and more.

Book Recommendations:

The Art of War by Sun Tzu

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris, Kate Sinclair and Mary Marge Locker; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski.

Apr 08, 2022
The Most Thorough Case Against Crypto I've Heard
01:21:58

The hype around cryptocurrencies has reached a fever pitch. There are Super Bowl ads for crypto companies featuring celebrities like Matt Damon and Larry David. The Staples Center in Los Angeles is now the Crypto.com Arena. And behind that hype is a distinct vision: a more decentralized economy where individuals have more autonomy over their finances, a grass-roots internet free of the not-so-invisible hand of Big Tech, and a cultural ecosystem where artists and musicians can fairly monetize their work.

But what if that vision is deeply flawed? What if the technology undergirding cryptocurrencies isn’t what it’s cracked up to be? Or what if the technology does work, yet the world it creates isn’t a decentralized utopia but a hyper-financialized dystopia?

Dan Olson is the creator of a two-hour-YouTube video, “Line Goes Up,” that has now been viewed nearly seven million times. “Line Goes Up” is the single most comprehensive critique of crypto that I’ve ever heard. And that’s because Olson isn’t just focused on cryptocurrencies as a technology or an asset class, but on the crypto universe as a distinct culture underpinned by a powerful ideology. It’s easy to think about the lingo, the acronyms and the myths associated with the crypto world as incidental to the value of cryptocurrencies and NFTs as assets. But for Olson, the culture and the currency are inextricably linked. And once you’ve made that connection, suddenly a lot of the problems, warning signs and potential dangers of crypto become visible in a new way.

Mentioned:

A Crypto Optimist Meets a Crypto Skeptic” from “The Ezra Klein Show”

How NFTs Create Value” by Steve Kaczynski and Scott Duke Kominers

You Are Not a Gadget by Jaron Lanier

Web3 Is Going Just Great” by Molly White

The Gift by Lewis Hyde

Book recommendations:

The Power Broker by Robert A. Caro

The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K. Le Guin

Persuasive Games by Ian Bogost

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris, Mary Marge Locker and Kate Sinclair; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld and Isaac Jones; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski.

Apr 05, 2022
Sanctioning Russia Is a Form of War. We Need to Treat It Like One.
01:20:06

The Russian political scientist Ilya Matveev recently described the impact of the West’s sanctions on his country as “30 years of economic development thrown into the bin.” He’s not exaggerating. Economists expect the Russian economy to contract by at least 15 percent of G.D.P. this year. Inflation is spiking. An exodus of Russian professionals is underway. Stories of shortages and long lines for basic consumer goods abound.

The U.S. and its allies have turned to sanctions as a way of taking action against Russia’s atrocities without direct military intervention. But to describe these sanctions as anything short of all-out economic warfare is euphemistic. Measures like these might be cloaked in the technocratic language of finance and economics, but the immiseration they cause is anything but abstract.

Nicholas Mulder is a historian at Cornell University and the author of the terrifyingly relevant new book “The Economic Weapon: The Rise of Sanctions as a Tool of Modern War.” In it, Mulder focuses on the last time economic warfare was waged at the scale we’re witnessing today, the period between World War I and World War II. And the book’s central lesson is this: We ultimately don’t know what’s going to happen when sanctions of this magnitude collide with the ideologies, myths and political dynamics of a given country. They could persuade the targeted country to back down. But they could also make it so desperate that it becomes more aggressive or lashes out — as Germany and Japan did on the eve of World War II.

So this is a discussion about what kind of weapon sanctions are, whether they actually achieve their goals and how they might shape the future of the Russia-Ukraine conflict — and the world. We also explore how sanctions “weaponize inflation,” whether they could lead to Vladimir Putin’s downfall in Russia, the toll they have taken on the Russian economy, how the West can leverage its sanctions to help bring about an end to the war in Ukraine, whether a European energy embargo could backfire, how this economic war is destabilizing countries around the world, the humanitarian crisis U.S. sanctions are helping create in Afghanistan, and what a foreign policy that didn’t rely so heavily on sanctions could look like.

This episode is guest hosted by Rogé Karma, the staff editor for “The Ezra Klein Show.” Rogé has been with the show since July 2019, when it was based at Vox. He works closely with Ezra on everything related to the show, from editing to interview prep to guest selection. At Vox, he also wrote articles and conducted interviews on topics ranging from policing and racial justice to democracy reform and the coronavirus.

Mentioned:

The Inflation Weapon: How American Sanctions Harm Iranian Households” by Esfandyar Batmanghelidj 

Iran, Sanctions and Inflation as a Weapon of Mass Destruction” by Spencer Ackerman 

Oligarchy by Jeffrey A. Winters

If Joe Biden Doesn’t Change Course, This Will Be His Worst Failure” by Ezra Klein 

Book recommendations:

Collapse by Vladislav M. Zubok

The Perfect Fascist by Victoria de Grazia

My Century by Aleksander Wat

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris, Kate Sinclair and Mary Marge Locker; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski.

Apr 01, 2022
I Keep Hoping Larry Summers Is Wrong. What if He’s Not?
01:17:39

“There is a chance that macroeconomic stimulus on a scale closer to World War II levels than normal recession levels will set off inflationary pressures of a kind we have not seen in a generation,” wrote Larry Summers in February 2021. A year later, the debate still rages over the first part of that sentence — the extent to which the American Rescue Plan is responsible for rising prices. But the rest of it is no longer in question: We’re currently experiencing the worst inflationary crisis in decades.

Annual inflation was already at its highest rate in decades in January of this year. But there was still a hopeful story you could tell about 2022: As the Covid pandemic eased, spending patterns would normalize, supply chains would strengthen, the labor market would stabilize, and inflation would ease. Then the Russian invasion of Ukraine sent global commodity markets into a tailspin and energy prices to record highs. An Omicron wave hit China, leading to huge lockdowns affecting global supply chains. And while the Fed has responded with the first of many planned interest rate hikes, it looks as though the inflation picture is only going to get worse in the immediate future.

For over a year now, Summers — a former U.S. Treasury secretary and current Harvard economist — has been warning about the economy that we appear to be entering. So I invited him to the show to make his case and paint a picture of what he thinks comes next. We discuss why he thinks we’re almost certainly headed toward a recession, why he believes the Fed is engaged in “wishful and delusional thinking,” whether corporations are using this inflationary period as an excuse to goose profit margins, how to avoid a 1970s-style stagflation crisis, whether interest rates are the right tool to be addressing inflation in the first place, why he thinks much more immigration is one of the best tools we have to bring down prices in the long term and much more.

Mentioned:

Larry Summers’s Mar. 17 Op-Ed in The Washington Post

Book Recommendations:

The Best and The Brightest by David Halberstam

The Price of Peace by Zachary D. Carter

Slouching Towards Utopia by J. Bradford DeLong

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Andrea López-Cruzado; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski.

Mar 29, 2022
Margaret Atwood on Stories, Deception and the Bible
01:08:22

A good rule of thumb is that whatever Margaret Atwood is worried about now is likely what the rest of us will be worried about a decade from now. The rise of authoritarianism. A backlash against women’s social progress. The seductions and dangers of genetic engineering. Climate change leading to social unrest. Advertising culture permeating more and more of our lives. Atwood — the author of the Booker Prize-winning novels “The Blind Assassin” and “The Testaments,” as well as “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Oryx and Crake” and, most recently, the essay collection “Burning Questions” — was writing about these topics decades ago, forecasting the unsettling world that we inhabit now. Pick up any one of her 17 published novels, and you will likely come across a theme or a quality of the setting that rings eerily true in the present day.

This is especially true of Atwood’s magnum opus, “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which takes place in a future America where climate change, droughts, a decaying economy and falling birthrates lead to the rise of a theocracy in which women called Handmaids are conscripted into childbirth. The repressive regime she created in that novel, Gilead, has been endlessly referred to and reinterpreted over the years because of the wisdom it contains about why people cooperate with — and resist — political movements that destroy the freedom of others. And as recent weeks have shown, we’re far from the day when that wisdom becomes irrelevant to present circumstances.

We discuss the deep human craving for stories, why Atwood believes we are engaged in “an arm wrestle for the soul of America,” what makes the stories of the Bible so compelling, the dangerous allure of totalitarian movements, how the shift from coal to oil helped to fuel the rise of modern consumerism, why she thinks climate change will cause even more harm by increasing the likelihood of war than it will by increasing the likelihood of extreme weather, how our society lost its capacity to imagine new utopias, why progressives need to incorporate more fun into their politics, why we should “keep our eye on the mushroom,” Atwood’s take on recent U.F.O. sightings and more. She even sings a bit of a song from the 1950s about the Iron Curtain.

Mentioned:

Art & Energy by Barry Lord

Book recommendations:

War by Margaret MacMillan

Biased by Jennifer L. Eberhardt

Secrets of the Sprakkar by Eliza Reid

Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White

Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris, Kate Sinclair and Mary Marge Locker; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin, Kristina Samulewski, Coral Ann Howells and Brooks Bouson.

Mar 25, 2022
How Energy Markets Are Shaping Putin’s Invasion — and the World
01:02:52

Nearly every dimension of the Ukraine-Russia conflict has been shaped by energy markets.

Russia’s oil and gas exports have long been the foundation of its economy and geopolitical strength. Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine — like his annexation of Crimea in 2014 — coincided with high energy prices. While Western sanctions have dealt a major blow to Russia’s financial system, European carve-outs for Russian oil and gas have kept hundreds of millions of dollars flowing to Moscow every day.

As a result, energy policy has become foreign policy. European countries are doubling down on their commitments to decarbonize in order to reduce their dependence on Russian energy as quickly as possible. The United States has banned Russian oil and gas imports, and in the wake of spiking gasoline prices, the Biden administration is looking for any opportunity to increase the world’s oil supply, including the possibility of normalizing trade relations with previously blacklisted countries like Venezuela and Iran.

But the intersection of energy and geopolitics extends far beyond this conflict. Energy is the bedrock of nations’ economic prosperity, military strength and geopolitical power. Which means energy markets are constantly shaping and reshaping global dynamics. You can’t understand the way the world operates today if you don’t understand the global flow of energy.

There are few people who have studied energy markets as closely as Daniel Yergin has. He is an economic historian and writer who has been called “America’s most influential energy pundit” in The New York Times. And he’s the author of numerous books on the intersection of energy and geopolitics, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power” and, most recently, the best-selling “The New Map: Energy, Climate, and the Clash of Nations.”

We discuss how Putin’s invasion halfway across the world caused gasoline prices to rise in California; what would happen to European economies if they decided to cut off Russian gas; how the U.S. shale revolution has transformed the global political landscape; why, when it comes to China and Russia, Yergin believes that “a relationship that was once based on Marx and Lenin is now grounded in oil and gas”; whether Donald Trump was right to be skeptical of Nord Stream 2; why decarbonization is not only beneficial for the climate but also crucial for national security; whether the Biden administration’s response to spiking energy prices is putting its climate agenda in jeopardy; why Yergin thinks hydrogen power could become central to combating climate change; and much more.

Book recommendations:

Putin’s World by Angela Stent

The Power of Law by Sebastian Mallaby

The Cloud Revolution by Mark P. Mills

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Andrea López-Cruzado; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski.

Mar 22, 2022
A Realist Take on How the Russia-Ukraine War Could End
01:14:51

As we enter the fourth week of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, many of the possible pathways this conflict could take are terrifying. A military quagmire that leads to protracted death and suffering. A Russian takeover of Kyiv and installation of a puppet government. An accidental strike on Polish or Romanian territory that draws America and the rest of NATO into war. Or, perhaps worst of all, a series of escalations that culminates in nuclear exchange.

But one possibility carries a glimmer of hope. This week, Ukrainian and Russian negotiators began talks on a tentative peace plan — one that would involve Ukraine abandoning its attempts to join NATO and promising not to host foreign military bases or weaponry, in exchange for Western security guarantees and a Russian troop withdrawal. We’re still far from any kind of definitive settlement — and there are legitimate concerns over whether Putin would accept any kind of deal at this point — but it’s a start.

Emma Ashford is a senior fellow with the New American Engagement Initiative at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, and a member of the school of foreign policy thinking known as “realism.” Realists view international relations as a contest between states for power and security; they tend to focus less on the psychologies and ideologies of individual leaders and more on the strategic self-interest of the parties involved. It’s an imperfect framework but a useful one — especially when it comes to analyzing what it would take to achieve a successful negotiation or settlement.

So I invited Ashford on the show to help me think through the different trajectories the conflict could take — and what the West can do to make de-escalation more likely. We also discuss John Mearsheimer’s argument that the West’s effort to expand NATO bears responsibility for Putin’s invasion, why Ashford isn’t particularly worried about the possibility of Russian cyberattacks on the West, how Western sanctions blur the line between war and peace, whether NATO’s efforts to supply Ukraine with weapons might backfire, why sanctions might not hurt Russian elites as much as Western leaders hope and how this conflict is changing the geopolitical calculus of countries like Germany, China and India.

Book recommendations:

The Economic Weapon by Nicholas Mulder

Not One Inch by M.E. Sarotte

The Sleepwalkers by Christopher Clark

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris, Mary Marge Locker and Kate Sinclair; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski.

Mar 18, 2022
Timothy Snyder on the Myths That Blinded the West to Putin’s Plans
01:11:38

“Americans and Europeans were guided through the new century by a tale about ‘the end of history,’ by what I will call the politics of inevitability, a sense that the future is just more of the present, that the laws of progress are known, that there are no alternatives, and therefore nothing really to be done,” writes the Yale historian Timothy Snyder in his 2018 book, “The Road to Unfreedom.”

The central thesis of “The Road to Unfreedom” is that different understandings of the past, its myths, histories and memories create radically different politics. Snyder wrote the book as a way of understanding Vladimir Putin’s 2014 invasion of Crimea and the West’s response, but its argument has become only more salient in recent weeks. You can’t understand Putin’s recent invasion of Ukraine without understanding his metaphysical attachment to the era of empire, his mythological telling of Russian-Ukrainian history, and his semi-mystical construction of what constitutes the Russian nation.

But Snyder’s more radical argument is that the West is also operating under its own mythological understanding of time — one that is so deeply ingrained in our collective psyche that it masquerades as common sense. And that understanding the influence of the “politics of inevitability” is essential to make sense of everything from the West’s misreading of Putin’s motivations to the internal fracturing of the European Union to the decline of liberal democracy across the globe.

So that’s where we start: with the central myths at the heart of the modern Western project — and the blind spots they have created. But Snyder is also a renowned historian of European great-power conflict who has written six books entirely or partly about Ukraine. So we also discuss the chasm between the radicalness of European integration and the tedium of European governance, why Snyder thinks Putin’s invasion is fundamentally the product of a Russian identity crisis, Ukraine’s unique history as a battleground for a great-power war, how Ukrainian identity transcends ethnicity and language, why Western leaders and analysts consistently fail to decipher Putin’s intentions, the huge difference between a Russian nation premised on myth and a Ukrainian nation forged by collective action, how Ukrainian resistance could inspire a Western vision for the future and more.

Mentioned:

Bloodlands by Timothy Snyder

"On the History Unity of Russians and Ukrainians” by Vladimir Putin

Book recommendations:

Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible by Peter Pomerantsev

The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt

The Gates of Europe by Serhii Plokhy

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“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. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski.

Mar 15, 2022
Masha Gessen on Putin’s 'Profoundly Anti-Modern’ Worldview
01:01:14

For Western audiences, the past few weeks have been a torrent of information about what’s happening in Russia and Ukraine. Daily updates of Russian military advances. Horrifying videos of buildings exploding and innocent civilians being killed. Announcements of increasingly severe economic sanctions and major corporate pullouts. Charts showing the collapse of the ruble. Story after story about the hardships facing the Russian economy.

Most Russians, however, are living in an alternate reality. This week, the Russian government made it a crime for journalists to spread what it considers false information about the “special military operation” in Ukraine — information that would include calling the war a war. As a result, many Western news organizations, including The Times, have pulled their employees out of Russia. The Kremlin has made it nearly impossible for people in Russia to access independent or international news sources. Russian state media coverage of the conflict has been, in the words of my guest today, “bland and bloodless.”

That raises some important questions: What do ordinary Russians know about the war being waged by their government? How are they interpreting the collapse of their currency and impending financial crisis? What are they being told to believe? And is the propaganda machine working?

Masha Gessen is a staff writer at The New Yorker and the author of many books on Russian history, politics and culture, including “The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin” and the National Book Award-winning “The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia.” And, perhaps most important, Gessen has been on the ground in Russia in recent weeks trying to understand how ordinary Russians are seeing and interpreting the world around them.

This is a conversation that starts in Moscow, as Gessen describes what it was like to be there during the first days of the invasion. We talk about the eerie sense of normalcy in the city as the ruble crashed and the odd sense of calm in Pushkin Square as policemen in combat gear dragged protesters into a police bus. We then take a wider view on how Russians responded to economic sanctions in the past, how totalitarian societies make it impossible for people to form opinions, where Putin sees himself in a lineage of “brutal, expansionist dictators” like Ivan the Terrible and Joseph Stalin, why Putin governs Russia as if it were a 19th-century empire, what we learn when we listen closely to Putin’s speeches and how this latest act of aggression is likely to play out.

Disclaimer: This episode contains explicit language.

Mentioned:

The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt

“How Putin Wants Russians to See the War in Ukraine” by Masha Gessen in The New Yorker

The Future Is History by Masha Gessen

First Person by Vladimir Putin, Nataliya Gevorkyan, Natalya Timakova, and Andrei Kolesnikov

Book recommendations:

The Last Empire by Serhii Plokhy

Manual for Survival by Kate Brown

Babi Yar by Anatoly Kuznetsov

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris, Mary Marge Locker and Kate Sinclair; original music and mixing by Isaac Jones; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin, Kristina Samulewski and Joanna Szostek.

Mar 11, 2022
Fiona Hill on the War Putin Is Really Fighting
00:58:37

Vladimir Putin was looking for a swift invasion that would halt Ukraine’s drift toward the West, reveal NATO’s fractures and weaknesses and solidify Russia as a global power. In response, the West threatened moderate sanctions, but ultimately showed little interest in stepping between Russia and Ukraine.

Then came the war, and everything changed. Russia’s invasion met with valiant Ukrainian resistance. President Volodymyr Zelensky became an international hero. NATO countries unified behind a truly punishing sanctions regime and significant military support. Russia’s attack strengthened Ukraine’s national identity — and its desire to join the European Union. A conflict that the U.S. and Europe were treating as purely strategic is now a conflict about the West’s most fundamental values.

Much of this has felt hopeful, even inspiring, to those watching from the comfort of home. But it has the potential to unleash a truly terrifying spiral of escalation. Putin, feeling backed into a corner, has raised the stakes. Last week, he called the West’s sanctions akin to an act of war and has put Russia’s nuclear arsenal on alert. And the global wave of support for Ukraine has made it increasingly difficult for Western leaders to de-escalate. In the fog of war, it isn’t hard to imagine an accident or miscommunication that triggers a World War III-like scenario.

So what does a settlement here look like? What does Putin want? What would Zelensky accept? What will Europe and the U.S. sign onto? Is there any deal that could work for all the players?

There are few people better positioned to answer those questions than Fiona Hill. Hill is a senior fellow in the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution. She served as deputy assistant to the president and senior director for European and Russian affairs on the National Security Council under Donald Trump and as a national intelligence officer for Russia and Eurasian affairs under Barack Obama and George W. Bush. And she is the co-author of the influential Putin biography “Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin.”

We discuss how Putin’s motivations and ambitions have changed dramatically in the last decade, why Ukrainian identity is absolutely central to understanding this conflict, whether NATO expansionism is responsible for the current conflict, the different pathways the war could take, how political incentives have created a spiral of escalation for Russia, Ukraine and the West, whether the economic pain of the sanctions can incentivize regime change in Moscow, the possibility of China playing a mediating role in resolving the conflict, the dangers of backing Putin into a corner, whether Putin is willing to use nuclear weapons, what de-escalation could look like at this point, and much more.

Book recommendations: 

Bloodlands by Timothy Snyder

Not One Inch by M.E. Sarotte

The Limits of Partnership by Angela Stent

Putin’s World by Angela Stent

Russia Under the Old Regime by Richard Pipes

The Formation of the Soviet Union by Richard Pipes

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“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. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski.

Mar 08, 2022
Fareed Zakaria Has a Better Way to Handle Russia — and China
01:05:34

“Russia’s utterly unprovoked, unjustifiable, immoral invasion of Ukraine would seem to mark the end of an era,” writes Fareed Zakaria, “one that began with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.”

Many of us, myself included, grew up in that era. We came of age in a unipolar world, dominated by a single country whose military, economic, even cultural, hegemony remained largely uncontested. That world was by no means free of violence. But the great power conflict that had defined the lived experiences of previous generations seemed like an ancient relic.

Recently, it’s the post-Cold War era of the last 30 years that has begun to feel outdated. China has become an economic and military powerhouse — its economy is now larger than the third, fourth, fifth and sixth biggest world economies combined. Russia has become geopolitically assertive, annexing Crimea in 2014, undermining U.S. elections , and now invading Ukraine.

Over the past few weeks, questions that once came off as alarmist have become urgent: Are we witnessing the return of great power conflict? And if so, what does that mean for America — and the rest of the world?

Fareed Zakaria is the host of CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS,” a columnist for The Washington Post and one of the most brilliant analysts of this emerging era. His 2003 book “The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad” and his 2008 book “The Post American World” were well ahead of their times. And his more recent work on Russia’s aggression, China’s rise and the crucial distinctions between those nations is crucial for understanding this moment.

We discuss the decline of the so-called “Pax-Americana,” why Zakaria believes Russia poses a much more existential threat to the liberal world order than China, what the West would be doing if it wanted to seriously punish Russia for its actions, whether Putin’s attempt to break the liberal world order has actually reinvigorated it, why Zakaria thinks it’s a mistake to think of the world as divided into “democratic” and “neo-authoritarian” blocs, how America’s expansionism and hypocrisy undermines its reputation abroad, whether Donald Trump was ultimately right about the need for greater European defense spending, what a diplomatic solution to the current Russia-Ukraine war could look like, how America’s thinking about the world needs to radically change in a global great power competition and more. Disclaimer: this episode contains explicit language. 

Mentioned:

“The Internationalists: How a Radical Plan to Outlaw War Remade the World” by Oona A. Hathaway and Scott J. Shapiro

Fareed Zakaria GPS episode, “Fareed’s take: Putin’s War on Liberal Democracy.” (CNN)

“The Return to Great-Power Rivalry Was Inevitable” by Thomas Wright (The Atlantic)

“Why Ukrainians Believe They Can Win” by Michelle Goldberg in The New York Times.

Book recommendations:

Man, the State, and War: A Theoretical Analysis by Kenneth N. Waltz

A World Safe for Democracy by G. John Ikenberry

Memoirs 1925-1950 by George F. Kennan

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“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. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski.

Mar 04, 2022
Can the West Stop Russia by Strangling its Economy?
01:35:17

There’s the Russia-Ukraine war that’s easy to follow in the news right now. We can watch Russian bombs falling on Ukraine, see Russian tanks smoking on the side of the road, hear from Ukrainian resistance fighters livestreaming their desperate defense.

But there’s another theater to this war that’s harder to see, but may well decide the outcome: the economic war that West is waging on Russia. Europe and the United States initially responded with a limited set of sanctions but then expanded them into a counterattack capable of crushing the Russian economy. Vladimir Putin, for one, understands the danger: As the force of the West’s measures multiplied, he readied his nuclear forces in a bid to warn Europe and the United States off. This is terrifying territory.

So I asked Adam Tooze — a brilliant economic historian, the director of the European Institute at Columbia, and the author of the indispensable “Chartbook” newsletter — to explain how the war in the financial markets is shaping the war in streets of Ukraine. What he gave me was a whole new way to see how Putin had readied his country for conflict, the leverage that Russia’s energy exports gave it, how the dreams of the globalizers had cracked, and what the West both was and wasn’t doing in response.

But this is two conversations, not one. On Friday, Tooze and I recorded just as the war began. That was a conversation about the economics of the war as both Russia and the West understood it when the bombing began. But on Monday, we spoke again, because so much had changed. Rather than splice the two discussions into an artificial omniscience, I’ve linked them, because I think they reveal more in sequence: They show how fast this war is reshaping the politics around it, how quickly the escalation is coming, how rapidly the plans are crumbling.

So we discuss the sanctions that the West has deployed against Russia, how Europe’s dependence on Russian energy exports undermined the West’s response, what Putin understood about the dark side of economic interdependence, how Ukraine’s remarkable resistance — and the remarkable leadership of its president, Volodymyr Zelensky — reshaped the politics and policies in the West, how this war could alter the geopolitical calculus of China and Taiwan, the new economic order that is emerging, and more.

Mentioned:

“Putin’s Challenge to Western hegemony - the 2022 edition” by Adam Tooze (Chartbook)

“The economic consequences of the war in Ukraine” (The Economist)

Book Recommendations:

The Economic Weapon by Nicholas Mulder

The End of the End of History by Alex Hochuli, George Hoare and Philip Cunliffe

The Future of Money by Eswar S. Prasad

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“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. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski.

Mar 01, 2022
A Philosophy of Games That Is Really a Philosophy of Life
01:12:53

When we play Monopoly or basketball, we know we are playing a game. The stakes are low. The rules are silly. The point system is arbitrary. But what if life is full of games — ones with much higher stakes — that we don’t even realize we’re playing?

According to the philosopher C. Thi Nguyen, games and gamified systems are everywhere in modern life. Social media applies the lure of a points-based scoring system to the complex act of communication. Fitness apps convert the joy and beauty of physical motion into a set of statistics you can monitor. The grades you received in school flatten the qualitative richness of education into a numerical competition. If you’ve ever consulted the U.S. News & World Report college rankings database, you’ve witnessed the leaderboard approach to university admissions.

In Nguyen’s book, “Games: Agency as Art,” a core insight is that we’re not simply playing these games — they are playing us, too. Our desires, motivations and behaviors are constantly being shaped and reshaped by incentives and systems that we aren’t even aware of. Whether on the internet or in the vast bureaucracies that structure our lives, we find ourselves stuck playing games over and over again that we may not even want to win — and that we aren’t able to easily walk away from.

This is one of those conversations that offers a new and surprising lens for understanding the world. We discuss the unique magic of activities like rock climbing and playing board games, how Twitter’s system of likes and retweets is polluting modern politics, why governments and bureaucracies love tidy packets of information, how echo chambers like QAnon bring comfort to their “players,” how to make sure we don’t get stuck in a game without realizing it, why we should be a little suspicious of things that give us pleasure and how to safeguard our own values in a world that wants us to care about winning the most points.

Mentioned:

How Twitter Gamifies Communication by C. Thi Nguyen

Trust in Numbers by Theodore M. Porter

Seeing Like a State by James C. Scott

“Against Rotten Tomatoes” by Matt Strohl

“A Game Designer’s Analysis Of QAnon” by Reed Berkowitz

The Great Endarkenment by Elijah Millgram

Game recommendations:

Modern Art

Root

The Quiet Year

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“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. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

Feb 25, 2022
Best Of: Stop. Breathe. We Can’t Keep Working Like This.
00:54:16

We were promised, with the internet, a productivity revolution. We were told that we’d get more done, in less time, with less stress. Instead, we got always-on communication, the dissolution of the boundaries between work and home, the feeling of constantly being behind, lackluster productivity numbers, and, to be fair, reaction GIFs. What went wrong?

Cal Newport is a computer scientist at Georgetown and the author of books trying to figure that out. At the center of his work is the idea that the technologies billed as offering us more productive, happier, socially rich lives have left us more exhausted, empty and stressed out than ever. He’s doing something not enough people do: questioning whether this was all worth it.

My critique of Newport’s work has always been that it focuses too much on the individual: Telling someone whose workplace communicates exclusively via Slack and email to be a “digital minimalist” is like telling someone who lives in a candy store to diet. But his 2021 book, “A World Without Email,” is all about systems — specifically, the systems that govern how we work. In it, Newport makes a radical argument: We are living through a massive, rolling failure of markets and firms to rethink work for the digital age. But that can change. We can change it.

This conversation with Newport was originally recorded in March of 2021, but it's just as relevant today as ever.

Recommendations: 

"Technics and Civilization" by Lewis Mumford

"Five Things We Need to Know About Technological Change" by Neil Postman

“A Continuous Shape” (video)

"Andrew Henry's Meadow" by Doris Burn

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“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. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

Feb 22, 2022
A Critique of Government That Liberals Need to Hear
01:16:31

Government is a bureaucratic, slow-moving institution. It’s too easily captured by special interests. It’s often incapable of acting at the speed and scale our problems demand. And when it does act, it can make things worse. Look no further than the Food and Drug Administration’s slowness to approve rapid coronavirus tests or major cities’ inability to build new housing and public transit or Congress’s failure to pass basic voting rights legislation.

This criticism is typically weaponized as an argument for shrinking government and outsourcing its responsibilities to the market. But the past two years have revealed the hollowness of that approach. A pandemic is a problem the private sector simply cannot solve. The same is true for other major challenges of the 21st century, such as climate change and technology-driven inequality. Ours is an age in which government needs to be able to do big things, solve big problems and deliver where the market cannot or will not.

Alex Tabarrok is an economist at George Mason University, a blogger at Marginal Revolution and for years has been one of the sharpest libertarian critics of big government. But the experience of the pandemic has changed his thinking in key ways. “Ninety-nine years out of 100, I’m a libertarian,” he told me last year. “But then there’s that one year out of 100.”

So this conversation is about the central tension that Tabarrok and I are grappling with right now: Government failure has never been more apparent — and yet we need government more than ever.

We discuss (and debate) the public choice theory of government failure, why it’s so damn hard to build things in America, how reforms intended to weaken special interests often empower them, why the American right is responsible for much of the government dysfunction it criticizes, the case for state capacity libertarianism, the appropriate size of the welfare state, the political importance of massive economic inequality and how the crypto world’s pursuit of decentralization could backfire.

Mentioned:

The Rise and Decline of Nations by Mancur Olson

“It’s Time to Build” by Marc Andreessen

“The bulldozer vs. vetocracy political axis” by Vitalik Buterin

Book recommendations:

The Anarchy by William Dalrymple

India: A Story Through 100 Objects by Vidya Dehejia

The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“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. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

Feb 18, 2022
Relationships Are Hard. This Unusual Parenting Theory Can Help.
01:00:16

This is one of those episodes I feel I need to sell. Because on one level, it’s about an unusual theory of parenting known by the acronym RIE — for the nonprofit group Resources for Infant Educarers, which promotes its principles — that I’ve become interested in. But this isn’t a parenting podcast, and I know many of you don’t have young kids. The reason I’m doing this episode is that I think there’s something bigger here.

RIE is centered on the idea that infants and toddlers are whole people worthy of respect. It gets attention for some weird recommendations, like how we should ask babies’ permission before changing a diaper or picking them up and how we should avoid distracting toddlers from a tantrum or seating them in a high chair. But underneath all that is something profound. A theory of how to build a relationship based on respect when words fail or are absent. A view of what it means to treat others with respect when we can’t count on respect being returned. And a recognition that in any interaction with another person, all we can really control is ourselves — the boundaries we draw, the energy we carry and the values we express.

This is a profound way to think about adult relationships. And it’s a profound way to think about political relationships, too, if you extend the teachings outward.

Janet Lansbury is a RIE educator and the author of the books “No Bad Kids” and “Elevating Child Care.” She also hosts a popular parenting podcast, “Janet Lansbury Unruffled.” It was through her work that I learned about RIE, so she was the perfect person to invite on for this discussion.

Mentioned:
Ezra’s conversation with Alison Gopnik

Book Recommendations:

Dear Parent: Caring for Infants with Respect by Magda Gerber

Siblings Without Rivalry by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

The Hurried Child by David Elkind

Biased by Jennifer L. Eberhardt

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“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. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

Feb 15, 2022
It's Not Your Fault You Can't Pay Attention. Here's Why.
01:06:10

“The sensation of being alive in the early 21st century consisted of the sense that our ability to pay attention — to focus — was cracking and breaking,” writes Johann Hari in his new book, “Stolen Focus.” Later he says, “It felt like our civilization had been covered with itching powder and we spent our time twitching and twerking our minds, unable to simply give attention to things that matter.”

Same.

Attention is the most precious resource we have — it’s the window through which we experience our lives. And for many of us, that window is fogging.

The knee-jerk response is to blame ourselves. If our attention is waning, it’s because we’re too distractible. But if there’s a single thesis of “Stolen Focus,” it’s that we have a lot less control over our attention than we like to believe — and not just because the apps on our smartphones are cunningly designed.

The book explores 12 factors that Hari believes are harming our ability to pay attention. And in it, there’s a clear distinction between what I’ve come to think of as the “demand side” and the “supply side” of attention. The demand side is the story we’re more familiar with: Entire economies and technologies are built around capturing, manipulating and directing our attention. But the supply side is just as important: A whole host of social conditions, from the food we eat to the amount we sleep to the chemicals in our air and the money in our bank accounts, determine the reservoirs of attention we have to draw on in the first place.

For Hari, that means that the state of our attention isn’t merely the product of individual failing or corporate manipulation — it’s an outgrowth of some of the most fundamental aspects of our society, our culture and our economy. And as a result it can’t be fixed by a few tweaks at the margins. To do that requires a sustained, rather radical, political project.

As you’ll hear in the conversation, I don’t agree wholly with Hari’s argument. But I think it’s a much needed push to look at the most fundamental of human facilities through a new lens. Life is the sum total of what we pay attention to. What forces are in control of our attention — and how we get it back — is a defining question of our age.

Mentioned:

The Ezra Klein Show is hiring a managing producer. Learn more here.

Ezra’s conversation with Nadine Burke Harris

Book Recommendations;

The Anatomy of a Moment by Javier Cercas

Visitors by Anita Brookner

The Apology by V (formerly Eve Ensler)

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“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. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

Feb 11, 2022
What the Heck Is Going on With the U.S. Economy?
01:00:04

Should we be celebrating a Biden boom? Lamenting inflation and its consequences? Both?

We know how to talk about booms, like the ’90s. We know how to talk about busts, like after the financial crisis. We know how to talk about stagnation. What we don’t know how to talk about is contradictory extremes coexisting together. But that’s the economy we have right now. And a lot rides on figuring out how to balance those extremes. Because if we solve inflation while killing the labor market, we’ll have blown a hole in our foot to save our hand.

And so I wanted to talk today to Jason Furman, an economist at Harvard and the chair of Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers from 2013 to 2017. What I appreciate about Jason is he doesn’t pretend the economy is only one thing or there’s only one lens for looking at it. He’s an unusually multimodeled thinker.

We discuss whether families and workers are making it out ahead given the dual realities of rising wages and rising prices, why so many economists and forecasters got this economy wrong, to what extent the Biden stimulus is responsible for both the booming economy and spiking inflation, whether the economic lessons of the financial crisis were overlearned, why Furman thinks supply-chain issues are “overrated” as a cause of inflation, what the Great Resignation misses, how the Biden administration should restructure its Build Back Better bill, and more.

Book Recommendations:

The Myth of the Rational Voter by Bryan Caplan

The Weirdest People in the World by Joseph Henrich

Who We Are and How We Got Here by David Reich

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“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. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

Feb 08, 2022
Let’s Talk About How Truly Bizarre Our Supreme Court Is
01:06:38

“Getting race wrong early has led courts to get everything else wrong since,” writes Jamal Greene. But he probably doesn’t mean what you think he means.

Greene is a professor at Columbia Law School, and his book “How Rights Went Wrong” is filled with examples of just how bizarre American Supreme Court outcomes have become. An information processing company claims the right to sell its patients’ data to drug companies — it wins. A group of San Antonio parents whose children attend a school with no air-conditioning, uncertified teachers and a falling apart school building sue for the right to an equal education — they lose. A man from Long Island claims the right to use his homemade nunchucks to teach the “Shafan Ha Lavan” karate style, which he made up, to his children — he wins.

Greene’s argument is that in America, for specific reasons rooted in our ugly past, the way we think about rights has gone terribly awry. We don’t do constitutional law the way other countries do it. Rather, we recognize too few rights, and we protect them too strongly. That’s created a race to get everything ruled as a right, because once it’s a right, it’s unassailable. And that’s made the stakes of our constitutional conflicts too high. “If only one side can win, it might as well be mine,” Greene writes. “Conflict over rights can encourage us to take aim at our political opponents instead of speaking to them. And we shoot to kill.”

It’s a grim diagnosis. But, for Greene, it’s a hopeful one, too. Because it doesn’t have to be this way. Supreme Court decisions don’t have to feel so existential. Rights like food and shelter and education need not be wholly ignored by the courts. Other countries do things differently, and so can we.

This is a crucial moment for the court. Stephen Breyer is retiring. And in this term alone, the 6-3 conservative court is expected to hand down crucial decisions on some of the most divisive issues in American life: abortion, affirmative action, guns. So this is, in part, a conversation about the court we have and the decisions it is likely to make. But it’s also about what a radically different court system could look like.

We discuss the Supreme Court’s recent decisions on vaccine mandates, why Greene thinks judicial decision-making is closer to punditry than constitutional interpretation, the stark differences in how the German and American Supreme Courts handled the issue of abortion, Greene’s case for appointing nearly 200 justices to the U.S. Supreme Court, why we even have courts in the first place and much more.

Mentioned:

The Ezra Klein Show is hiring a managing producer. Learn more here.

Book Recommendations:

Rights Talk by Mary Ann Glendon

Law and Disagreement by Jeremy Waldron

Cult of the Constitution by Mary Anne Franks 

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris and Kristina Samulewski; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

Feb 04, 2022
Democrats Chase Shiny Objects. Here's How to Build Real Power.
01:05:28

There’s good reason to worry about the future of democracy, and little reason to believe Democrats have a viable plan for protecting it. They built their strategy around passing a major suite of voting reforms and protections through Congress, and a few weeks back, their whole agenda collapsed in the face of the filibuster. So what now? Is there a Plan B for protecting democracy?

Yes. But it begins with realizing that there is no national solution in a country that administers elections at the state and local levels. Which means it begins with realizing that many Democrats have made a mistake: They’ve focused so much on national conflicts that they’ve ceded state and local power to the right, with dangerous results. Trumpists can’t pass some big national bill putting Trump back in office, so they are organizing to win the state and local offices that will hold power over the process next time. Democracy’s defenders need to do the same. And that means you.

Amanda Litman is a co-founder of Run for Something, which recruits and supports young, progressive candidates who want to run for office. And so this is a conversation about the mechanics of American democracy, the confusions and myths that keep so many of us from participating in them and the practical question of what it means to step off the sidelines and, well, run for something. We talk about why Democrats tend to chase “shiny objects” over real political power, what right-leaning organizations have been up to that liberals should envy, how you probably have more control over issues like abortion and climate change than you think, what it actually takes to run a local campaign, the three questions prospective candidates should be able to answer, and more.

This isn’t a conversation raging against the decaying of American democracy. This is a conversation about saving that democracy by participating at its most fundamental level: the local level. The one where you can have the most impact. And so it’s the rare conversation about democracy that left me feeling better, rather than worse, about what’s possible. I think it’ll do the same for you.

This episode contains strong language.

Mentioned:

The Ezra Klein Show is hiring a managing producer. Learn more here.

From ProPublica: “Heeding Steve Bannon’s Call, Election Deniers Organize to Seize Control of the GOP — and Reshape America’s Elections” by Isaac Arnsdorf, Doug Bock Clark, Alexandra Berzon and Anjeanette Damon

What It Takes by Richard Ben Cramer

Find out what elected offices you can run for

Book recommendations:

The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang

Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez

Let’s Get Physical by Danielle Friedman

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“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. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

Feb 01, 2022
Learning to Listen to the Voices Only You Hear
00:59:09

The world has gotten louder, even when we’re alone. A day spent in isolation can still mean a day buffeted by the voices on social media and the news, on podcasts, in emails and text messages. Objects have also gotten louder: through the advertisements that follow us around the web, the endless scroll of merchandise available on internet shopping sites and in the plentiful aisles of superstores. What happens when you really start listening to all these voices? What happens when you can’t stop hearing them?

Ruth Ozeki is a Zen Buddhist priest and the author of novels including “A Tale for the Time Being,” which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and “The Book of Form and Emptiness,” which I read over paternity leave and loved. “The Book of Form and Emptiness” is about Benny, a teenager who starts hearing objects speak to him right after his father’s death, and it’s about his mother, Annabelle, who can’t let go of anything she owns, and can’t seem to help her son or herself. And then it’s about so much more than that: mental illnesses and materialism and consumerism and creative inspiration and information overload and the power of stories and the role of libraries and unshared mental experiences and on and on. It’s a book thick with ideas but written with a deceptively light, gentle pen.

Our conversation begins by exploring what it means to hear voices in our minds, and whether it’s really so rare. We talk about how Ozeki’s novels begin she hears a character speaking in her mind, how meditation can teach you to detach from own internal monologue, why Marie Kondo’s almost animist philosophy of tidying became so popular across the globe, whether objects want things, whether practicing Zen has helped her want less and, my personal favorite part, the dilemmas posed by an empty box with the words “empty box” written on it.

Mentioned:

The Ezra Klein Show is hiring a managing producer. Learn more here.

The Great Shift by James L. Kugel

Book recommendations:

When You Greet Me I Bow by Norman Fischer

The Aleph and Other Stories by Jorge Luis Borges

Vibrant Matter by Jane Bennett

This episode contains a brief mention of suicidal ideation. If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). A list of additional resources is available at SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“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. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski.

Jan 25, 2022
The View From the White House
00:45:56

It’s been a year since Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States. And what a roller coaster of a year it’s been.

The Biden administration blew past its Covid vaccination goal of 100 million shots in 100 days, only to run into the realities of vaccine skepticism, the Delta wave and now Omicron. The president oversaw an unprecedented economic recovery — including the sharpest one-year drop in unemployment in American history — but now faces the highest inflation in decades, supply chain crises and souring approval ratings. Congress passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan and the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law, but negotiations collapsed over the administration’s signature Build Back Better bill, and on Thursday the Senate failed to pass any voting rights legislation.

Ron Klain is President Biden’s chief of staff and one of the most influential members of the current administration. We discuss what the United States can learn from Asian countries’ pandemic strategies, what went wrong with America’s testing regime, the administration’s plan for tackling inflation, what it will take to be prepared for the next variant, what Klain has learned about what private sector can — and can’t — accomplish on its own, the fate of Build Back Better, what can excite Democrats for the 2022 midterms, the status of relations between the White House and Joe Manchin, how the administration is thinking about the 6-to-3 conservative Supreme Court majority and more.

Mentioned:

The Ezra Klein Show is looking for a managing producer. Learn more.

Book Recommendation:

The Gatekeepers by Chris Whipple

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris, Mary Marge Locker and Kate Sinclair; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

Jan 21, 2022
The Pandemic Lessons We Clearly Haven’t Learned
01:15:07

I remember thinking, as Covid ravaged the country in December 2020, that at least the holidays the next year would be better. There would be more vaccines, more treatments, more immunity. Instead, we got Omicron and a confusing new phase of the pandemic. What do you do with a variant that is both monstrously more infectious and somewhat milder? What do you say about another year when we didn’t have enough tests, enough ventilation or the best guidance on masks? And how do you handle the fracturing politics of a changing pandemic in an exhausted country?

Zeynep Tufekci is a sociologist and New York Times Opinion columnist who does a better job than almost anyone at assessing the pandemic at a systems level. To solve a public-health crisis, it’s not enough to get the science right. There are also challenges with supply chains, infrastructure, research production, mass communication, political trust and institutional inertia. I’ve found Tufekci’s ability to balance the epidemiological data and the sociological realities uniquely helpful across the pandemic, and you can hear why in this conversation.

We discuss how the Covid crisis has changed, as well as Tufekci’s sobering conclusion: that the virus, at this point, is feeding on our dysfunction. We look at what Omicron is and isn’t, where the Biden administration has succeeded and failed, the debate over closing schools, why so many Asian countries have so powerfully outperformed the West, how the role of vaccines has changed, what a pandemic-prepared society would actually look like, and what should be true of our pandemic policy in a year that isn’t now.

Book recommendations:

The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy by Irvin D. Yalom and Molyn Leszcz

Chaos by James Gleick

The Dead Hand by David Hoffman

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris, Mary Marge Locker and Kate Sinclair; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

Jan 18, 2022
Chris Hayes on How Biden Can Have a Better 2022
01:03:38

Nothing like a newborn and paternity leave to leave you feeling a bit out of the loop. So for my first podcast back since October, I wanted to wander through the thickets of where we are politically and how we got here.

Because where we are is strange: the Omicron wave and the breakdown of the liberal Covid consensus that preceded it; a hot economy with low unemployment, rising wages and high inflation; a Build Back Better bill for which the eventual compromise seems obvious even as the legislation is stalled; the anniversary of Jan. 6, which comes as both of the Democrats’ major democracy bills are languishing; and a Biden administration that has passed big, popular policies, only to watch its poll numbers fall.

Chris Hayes is the host of MSNBC’s “All In” and the podcast “Why Is This Happening?” He’s also one of my favorite people to process politics with, so I asked him to help me track back through the past few months of the news and look into how 2022 could be better.

Mentioned:

The Ronald Reagan Guide to Joe Biden’s Political Future” by Jamelle Bouie

How Michel Foucault Lost the Left and Won the Right” by Ross Douthat

Ten Million a Year” by David Wallace-Wells

On the Internet, We’re Always Famous” by Chris Hayes

Book recommendations:

The Braindead Megaphone by George Saunders

The Three-Body Problem Series by Cixin Liu

The Racial Contract by Charles W. Mills

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“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. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

Jan 11, 2022
Best Of: This Conversation Will Change How You Think About Thinking
01:08:36

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, originally released in July 2021, 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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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 and Alison Bruzek.

Jan 04, 2022
Best Of: Why Sci-Fi Legend Ted Chiang Fears Capitalism, Not A.I.
00:50:34

For years, I’ve kept a list of dream guests for this show. And as long as that list has existed, Ted Chiang has been atop it.

Chiang is a science fiction writer. But that undersells him. He has released two short story collections over 20 years — 2002’s “Stories of Your Life and Others” and 2019’s “Exhalation.” Those stories have won more awards than I can list, and one of them was turned into the film “Arrival.” They are remarkable pieces of work: Each is built around a profound scientific, philosophical or religious idea, and then the story or the story structure is shaped to represent that idea. They are wonders of precision and craft. But unlike a lot of science fiction, they are never cold. Chiang’s work is deeply, irrepressibly humane.

I’ve always wondered about the mind that would create Chiang’s stories. And in this conversation, originally released in March 2021, I got to watch it in action. Chiang doesn’t like to talk about himself. But he does like to talk about ideas. And so we do: We discuss the difference between magic and technology, why superheroes fight crime but ignore injustice, what it would do to the human psyche if we knew the future is fixed, whether free will exists, whether we’d want to know the exact date of our deaths, why Chiang fears what humans will do to artificial intelligence more than what A.I. will do to humans, the way capitalism turns people against technology, and much more.

The ideas Chiang offered in this conversation are still ringing in my head months later, and changing the way I see the world. It’s worth taking your time with this one.

Recommendations: 

"Creation" by Steve Grand

"On the Measure of Intelligence" by Francois Chollet

"CivilWarLand in Bad Decline" by George Saunders

"A Visit from the Goon Squad" by Jennifer Egan

"Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise" (movie)

"On Fragile Waves" by Lily Yu

"Pilgrim at Tinker Creek" by Annie Dillard

Control (video game)

Return of the Obra Dinn (video game)

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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 and Alison Bruzek.

Dec 28, 2021
Best Of: Noam Chomsky's Theory of the Good Life
01:12:43

How do you introduce Noam Chomsky? Perhaps you start here: In 1979, The New York Times called him “arguably the most important intellectual alive today.” More than 40 years later, Chomsky, at 92, is still putting his dent in the world — writing books, giving interviews, changing minds.

There are different sides to Chomsky. He’s a world-renowned linguist who revolutionized his field. He’s a political theorist who’s been a sharp critic of American foreign policy for decades. He’s an anarchist who believes in a radically different way of ordering society. He’s a pragmatist who pushed leftists to vote for Joe Biden in 2020 and has described himself as having a “rather conservative attitude towards social change.” He is, very much, himself.

The problem in planning a conversation with Chomsky is how to get at all these different sides. So this one, from April 2021, covers a lot of ground. We discuss:

— Why Chomsky is an anarchist, and how he defines anarchism

— How his work on language informs his idea of what human beings want

— The role of advertising in capitalism

— Whether we should understand job contracts as the free market at work or a form of constant coercion

— How Chomsky’s ideal vision of society differs from Nordic social democracy

— How Chomsky’s class-based theory of politics holds up in an era where college-educated suburbanites are moving left on economics

— Chomsky’s view of the climate crisis and why he thinks the “degrowth” movement is misguided

— Whether job automation could actually be a good thing for human flourishing

— Chomsky’s views on US-China policy, and why he doesn’t think China is a major geopolitical threat

— The likelihood of nuclear war in the next decade

And much more. 

Mentioned in this episode: 

On Anarchism by Noam Chomsky 

Climate Crisis and the Global Green New Deal by Noam Chomsky and Robert Pollin

 “Why the Amazon Workers Never Stood a Chance” by Erik Loomis 

“Trends in Income From 1975 to 2018” by Carter C. Price and Kathryn A. Edwards 

“This is What Minimum Wage Would Be If It Kept Pace with Productivity” by Dean Baker

“There is no Plan B for dealing with the climate crisis” by Raymond Pierrehumbert

Recommendations: 

"The Last of the Just" by Andre Schwarz-Bart

"All God's Dangers: The Life of Nate Shaw" by Theodore Rosengarten

Selected essays by Ahad Ha'am

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

 

Dec 21, 2021
Timeless Wisdom for Leading a Life of Love, Friendship and Learning
01:05:06

“Today, we are supercompetent when it comes to efficiency, utility, speed, convenience, and getting ahead in the world; but we are at a loss concerning what it’s all for,” Leon Kass writes in his 2017 book “Leading a Worthy Life.” “This lack of cultural and moral confidence about what makes a life worth living is perhaps the deepest curse of living in our interesting time.”

Kass spent more than 30 years as an award-winning teacher at the University of Chicago, where he gained a reputation among students for his commitment to the big questions of human existence and the study of classic texts. And he’s written books and essays on marriage, sports, ethics, friendship, romance, the philosophy of food, biblical wisdom and more. In many ways, Kass’s career represents a lifelong effort to grapple with the biggest question of all: What does it mean to live a meaningful life?

This conversation, between Kass and the New York Times Opinion columnist David Brooks, is an attempt to answer that question. Along the way, they discuss the difference between choosing a career and discovering a vocation; the key ingredients of a successful romantic relationship; how to distinguish between superficial friendships and life-altering ones; why finding the right job is less about searching within ourselves and more about committing to something beyond ourselves; Kass’s view that the most distinctive thing about individuals isn’t their race, gender or class but “the ruling passions of their souls”; and what the biblical Exodus story can teach Americans about how to live together more harmoniously.

Mentioned:

Founding God’s Nation by Leon Kass

The Second Mountain by David Brooks

Book Recommendations:

Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle

The Hebrew Bible, especially Genesis and Exodus

Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville

Daniel Deronda by George Eliot

This episode is guest-hosted by David Brooks, a New York Times columnist, whose work focuses on politics, culture and moral formation. He currently serves as chair of Weave: The Social Fabric Project at the Aspen Institute in Washington, D.C. and is the author of several books, including “The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life.” You can follow him on Twitter @nytdavidbrooks. (Learn more about the other guest hosts during Ezra’s parental leave here.)

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“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 and Alison Bruzek.

Dec 14, 2021
Families Are Drowning in Care Costs. Here’s How To Change That.
00:53:09

Every day in the United States, more than 10,000 babies are born and 10,000 people turn 65. But America doesn’t have anything close to a comprehensive family policy. That means no guaranteed paid family leave, no universal child care or preschool and a patchwork system of elder and disability care that leaves millions without support.

American families are drowning as a result. In some states, the average cost of a full-time child-care program is nearing $20,000 a year; the median yearly cost of a private room in a nursing home is over $100,000 — a figure that well exceeds the median household income in the United States. And workers in the child care and eldercare industries routinely make poverty wages.

Ai-jen Poo is a co-founder and the executive director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, a MacArthur “genius” grant winner and the author of “The Age of Dignity: Preparing for the Elder Boom in a Changing America.”

Fixing America’s systems of care has been Poo’s life’s work. But for her, the current state of America’s care infrastructure is more than a looming crisis; it’s a huge opportunity — one that, if solved, could supercharge the American economy, ensure dignified care across our life spans and revolutionize the future of work. And Poo’s movement may be on the brink of a major victory: If signed into law, the Build Back Better Act would be the most transformative investment in children and caregiving in generations.

This conversation is about how caring for the people we love became so atrociously unaffordable and unmanageable — and what it would take to change that. It also explores why Poo thinks we should view child care and eldercare as essential infrastructure for running our economy and society, the racialized history of why the United States lags behind most of its peers in developing comprehensive family policy, the cultural narratives that have caused America to undervalue care work for so long, how solving the care crisis would be a policy “win-win-win” for everyone, Poo’s view that “care is a problem the market cannot solve” and why Poo believes that the future of work is inextricably linked to the future of care.

Mentioned:

Prep School for Poor Kids: The Long-Run Impacts of Head Start on Human Capital and Economic Self-Sufficiency” by Martha J. Bailey et al.

Book recommendations:

The Sum of Us by Heather McGhee

Caste by Isabel Wilkerson

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

This episode is guest-hosted by Heather McGhee, a public policy expert whose work focuses on the intersection of race, inequality, and social policy. She is the chairman of the board of directors of the racial justice organization Color of Change, the former president of the think tank Demos and author of “The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together” and. You can follow her on Twitter @HMcGhee. (Learn more about the other guest hosts during Ezra’s parental leave here.)

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“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 and Alison Bruzek.

Dec 07, 2021
Predicting the Future Is Possible. ‘Superforecasters’ Know How.
00:52:51

Can we predict the future more accurately?

It’s a question we humans have grappled with since the dawn of civilization — one that has massive implications for how we run our organizations, how we make policy decisions, and how we live our everyday lives.

It’s also the question that Philip Tetlock, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania and a co-author of “Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction,” has dedicated his career to answering. In 2011, he recruited and trained a team of ordinary citizens to compete in a forecasting tournament sponsored by the U.S. intelligence community. Participants were asked to place numerical probabilities from 0 to 100 percent on questions like “Will North Korea launch a new multistage missile in the next year” and “Is Greece going to leave the eurozone in the next six months?” Tetlock’s group of amateur forecasters would go head-to-head against teams of academics as well as career intelligence analysts, including those from the C.I.A., who had access to classified information that Tetlock’s team didn’t have.

The results were shocking, even to Tetlock. His team won the competition by such a large margin that the government agency funding the competition decided to kick everyone else out, and just study Tetlock’s forecasters — the best of whom were dubbed “superforecasters” — to see what intelligence experts might learn from them.

So this conversation is about why some people, like Tetlock’s “superforecasters,” are so much better at predicting the future than everyone else — and about the intellectual virtues, habits of mind, and ways of thinking that the rest of us can learn to become better forecasters ourselves. It also explores Tetlock’s famous finding that the average expert is roughly as accurate as “a dart-throwing chimpanzee” at predicting future events, the inverse correlation between a person’s fame and their ability to make accurate predictions, how superforecasters approach real-life questions like whether robots will replace white-collar workers, why government bureaucracies are often resistant to adopt the tools of superforecasting and more.

Mentioned:

Expert Political Judgment by Philip E. Tetlock

What do forecasting rationales reveal about thinking patterns of top geopolitical forecasters?” by Christopher W. Karvetski et al.

Book recommendations:

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker

Perception and Misperception in International Politics by Robert Jervis

This episode is guest-hosted by Julia Galef, a co-founder of the Center for Applied Rationality, host of the “Rationally Speaking” podcast and author of “The Scout Mindset: Why Some People See Things Clearly and Others Don’t.” You can follow her on Twitter @JuliaGalef. (Learn more about the other guest hosts during Ezra’s parental leave here.)

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“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 and Alison Bruzek.

Dec 03, 2021
Best Of: How Blue Cities Became So Outrageously Unaffordable
01:08:55

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. 

This conversation originally took place in July 2021, but it has become even more relevant with the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the ongoing negotiations over the Build Back Better Act.


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

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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

“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 and Alison Bruzek.

Nov 30, 2021
Why Is Murder Spiking? And Can Cities Address It Without Police?
01:25:08

In 2020 the United States experienced a nearly 30 percent rise in homicides from 2019. That’s the single biggest one-year increase since we started keeping national records in 1960. And violence has continued to rise well into 2021.

To deny or downplay the seriousness of this spike is neither morally justified nor politically wise. Violence takes lives, traumatizes children, instills fear, destroys community life and entrenches racial and economic inequality. Public opinion responds in kind: Polling indicates that Americans are increasingly worried about violent crime. And if November’s state and local campaigns were any indication, public safety will be a defining issue in upcoming election cycles.

Liberals and progressives need an answer to the question of how to handle rising violence. But that answer doesn’t need to involve a return to the punitive, tough-on-crime approach that has devastated Black and brown communities for decades and led millions of people to take to the streets in protest last summer.

Patrick Sharkey is a sociologist at Princeton University and the author of “Uneasy Peace: The Great Crime Decline, the Renewal of City Life, and the Next War on Violence.” The central claim of his work is this: Police are effective at reducing violence, but they aren’t the only actors capable of doing so. Sharkey has studied community-based models for addressing violence in places as varied as rural Australia and New York City. As a result, he has developed a compelling, evidence-backed vision of how cities and communities can tackle violent crime without relying heavily on police.

So this conversation is about what an alternative approach to addressing the current homicide spike could look like and all the messy, difficult questions it raises. It also explores the causes of the homicide spike, why Sharkey thinks policing is ultimately an “unsustainable” solution to crime, how New York City managed to reduce gun violence by 50 percent while reducing arrests and prison populations, whether it’s possible to overcome the punitive politics of rising crime, why America has such abnormally high levels of violent crime in the first place and more. 

Mentioned:

“Community and the Crime Decline: The Causal Effect of Local Nonprofits on Violent Crime” by Patrick Sharkey, Gerard Torrats-Espinosa and Delaram Takyar 

“Reducing Violence Without Police: A Review of Research Evidence”

“Social Fabric: A New Model For Public Safety and Vital Neighborhoods” by Elizabeth Glazer and Patrick Sharkey

“Can Precision Policing Reduce Gun Violence? Evidence from “Gang Takedowns in New York City” by Aaron Chalfin, Michael LaForest and Jacob Kaplan

Book Recommendations:

The Stickup Kids by Randol Contreras

The Truly Disadvantaged by William Julius Wilson

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

This episode is guest hosted by Rogé Karma, the staff editor for “The Ezra Klein Show.” Rogé has been with the show since July 2019, when it was based at Vox. He works closely with Ezra on everything related to the show, from editing to interview prep to guest selection. At Vox, he also wrote stories and conducted interviews on topics ranging from policing and racial justice to democracy reform and the coronavirus.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

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

Nov 23, 2021
The Case Against Loving Your Job
01:22:33

The compulsion to be happy at work “is always a demand for emotional work from the worker,” writes Sarah Jaffe. “Work, after all, has no feelings. Capitalism cannot love. This new work ethic, in which work is expected to give us something like self-actualization, cannot help but fail.”

Jaffe is a Type Media Center reporting fellow, a co-host of the podcast “Belabored” and the author of “Work Won’t Love You Back: How Devotion to Our Jobs Keeps Us Exploited, Exhausted and Alone.” Many of us, especially Gen Zers and millennials, have grown up with the idea that work should be more than just a way to make a living; it’s a vocation, a calling, a source of meaning and fulfillment. But for Jaffe, that idea is a scam, a con, a false promise. It prevents us from seeing work for what it really is: a power struggle over our time, our labor and our livelihoods.

So this is a conversation about the dissonance between our expectations of what work can offer our lives and the reality of what our jobs and careers are capable of delivering; about whether work can ever really love us back. But there’s a bigger picture here, too. Workers are quitting their jobs in record numbers. Strikes are taking place across the country. In her role as a labor reporter, Jaffe has spent much of the past year interviewing workers across the country — spanning industries from retail to health care to tech — giving her insight into the shift in attitudes behind this uproar in the labor market. So that’s where we begin: Why are so many Americans radically rethinking work?

We also discuss the rise of corporate virtue signaling, the threat that American consumerism poses for worker power, how the decline of religion could be contributing to the veneration of careers, why the term “burnout” doesn’t go far enough in describing the problems of modern work and how the logic of capitalism has shaped our notions of human value and self-worth.

Mentioned:

“Physicians aren’t ‘burning out.’ They’re suffering from moral injury” by Wendy Dean and Simon Talbot 

“Workism Is Making Americans Miserable” by Derek Thompson

"Optimal Experience in Work and Leisure" by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Judith LeFevre

Undoing The Demos by Wendy Brown

Dirty Work by Eyal Press

Book Recommendations:

Lost in Work by Amelia Horgan

Farewell to the Factory by Ruth Milkman

Confessions of the Fox by Jordy Rosenberg

This episode is guest hosted by Rogé Karma, the staff editor for “The Ezra Klein Show.” Rogé has been with the show since July 2019, when it was based at Vox. He works closely with Ezra on everything related to the show, from editing to interview prep to guest selection. At Vox, he also wrote stories and conducted interviews on topics ranging from policing and racial justice to democracy reform and the coronavirus.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

“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.

Nov 19, 2021
Are We Witnessing the Mainstreaming of White Power in America?
01:09:02

Over the course of Donald Trump’s presidency, the far-right fringe became a surprisingly visible and influential force in American politics. Eruptions of extremist violence — including the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017 and the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection — have made militant groups like the Proud Boys and conspiracy theories like QAnon into household names. On his popular cable news show, Tucker Carlson recently name-checked the “great replacement” conspiracy theory. And in a recent survey, nearly a third of Republicans agreed with the statement that “true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country.”

The historian Kathleen Belew has spent her career studying political violence and the once-fringe ideas that now animate even right-of-center politics and news media. She is a co-editor of “A Field Guide to White Supremacy” and the author of “Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America,” which tells the story of how groups — including the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and Aryan Nations — coalesced into a radical white-power movement after the Vietnam War. These groups were united by a core set of beliefs about the threats of demographic change and governmental overreach, perceived hostility toward white Americans and the necessity of extra-political, often violent, action to achieve their aims.

This is a conversation about how some of those ideas have seeped into mainstream Republican politics and what that could mean for the future of the party — and the country. It explores the radicalizing effects of Jan. 6, how irony and meme culture import far-right ideas into popular media, how warfare abroad can produce violence at home, why politics has started to feel apocalyptic across the spectrum, whether left-wing violence is as serious a threat as right-wing violence and more.

Mentioned:

Radical American Partisanship by Lilliana Mason and Nathan P. Kalmoe

Messengers of the Right by Nicole Hemmer

The Hispanic Republican by Geraldo Cadava

Mothers of Massive Resistance by Elizabeth Gillespie McRae

Book Recommendations:

Fortress America by Elaine Tyler May

Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich

Tiny You by Jennifer Holland

This episode is guest-hosted by Nicole Hemmer, a historian whose work focuses on right-wing media and American politics. She is an associate research scholar with the Obama Presidency Oral History Project at Columbia University and author of “Messengers of the Right: Conservative Media and the Transformation of American Politics.” You can follow her on Twitter @PastPunditry. (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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

Nov 16, 2021
It's Time for the Media to Choose: Neutrality or Democracy?
01:14:35

“Making it harder to vote, and harder to understand what the party is really about — these are two parts of the same project” for the Republican Party, Jay Rosen writes. “The conflict with honest journalism is structural. To be its dwindling self, the G.O.P. has to also be at war with the press, unless of course the press folds under pressure.”

Rosen is a professor of journalism at N.Y.U., author of the blog “PressThink,” and one of America’s sharpest contemporary media critics. And his argument is a simple one: The media’s implicit model of American politics — of two coequal parties with competing governing philosophies — is fundamentally broken. Today, the most important axis of political conflict is not between left and right, but between pro- and anti-democracy forces.

The way Rosen sees it, the American mainstream press must make a choice: Will it double down on its commitment to detached, nonpartisan neutrality? Or will it choose instead to boldly and aggressively defend truth and democracy?

These days, Rosen’s view seems almost common-sensical. But he’s been critiquing “both sides” journalism — and the model of politics underlying it — for years now, long before such arguments came into vogue. As a result, he’s done some of the most original thinking about what an alternative model of journalism would look like, and wrestled with the inevitable political, social and economic tensions that come with it.

So this conversation is about what pro-democracy journalism could look like in practice and the thorny questions that this approach to coverage raises. But it also touches on the drawbacks of the press’s focus on Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema; how journalists should cover Donald Trump and Tucker Carlson; why Rosen believes “moderate” and “centrist” are “two of the most ideology-soaked terms” in political journalism; the consequences of an economy where political news has to compete for attention with Netflix, Xbox and TikTok; and why Substack and podcasting may hold one of the keys to restoring trust in the media.

Mentioned:

Americans’ Trust in Media Dips to Second Lowest on Record” by Megan Brenan

The Coming Confrontation Between the American Press and the Republican Party” by Jay Rosen on PressThink

Battleship Newspaper” by Jay Rosen on PressThink

Election Coverage: The Road Not Taken” by Jay Rosen on PressThink

CBS News poll on Build Back Better

Book Recommendations:

The Boys on the Bus by Timothy Crouse

Making News by Gaye Tuchman

Deciding What’s News by Herbert Gans

This episode is guest-hosted by Nicole Hemmer, a historian whose work focuses on the right-wing media and American politics. She is an associate research scholar with the Obama Presidency Oral History Project at Columbia and author of “Messengers of the Right: Conservative Media and the Transformation of American Politics.” You can follow her on Twitter @PastPunditry. (There’s 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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

Nov 12, 2021
Two Acclaimed Writers on the Art of Revising Your Life
01:02:04

Many of the most contentious debates right now center on whether we, as individuals — and as a country — are willing to revise. To revise our understanding of history. To revise the kind of language we use. To revise the nature of our personal, and national, identities. To revise how we act in our everyday relationships.

Revision like this is often necessary, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Making fundamental changes to the way we think, speak and act requires the kind of self-scrutiny, discomfort and sacrifice that many of us would rather avoid.

There are few public figures who model revision — of one’s work and one’s life — as openly and honestly as Kiese Laymon. Laymon has written the prizewinning memoir “Heavy” as well as essays for The New York Times, ESPN and the Oxford American. His nonfiction tackles sports, popular culture, the politics of literary publishing and, above all, his home state of Mississippi. On every page, you’ll find wit, but also heart-stopping vulnerability and a reckoning with tough love: for himself, his kin, his community and the complicated places where he has spent his life.

Laymon has mastered the art of revising his own words. But for him, revision is also a moral, even a spiritual, act — a crucial part of becoming a loving and responsible human being. He is the first to admit that he is a work in progress, that each period of his life is a draft that can be improved. In a way, Laymon thinks of his entire life as an act of revision. And he nurtures a radical hope that America can change for the better, too.

This conversation focuses on how Laymon thinks about revision. But it also considers how he navigates a publishing world that often puts pressure on minority-group artists to suppress their full identities to appeal to white audiences, the way his writing pushes the boundaries of conventional genre and canon, why Americans have such a hard time reassessing ourselves and what we can gain from trying to change.

Mentioned:

"A Southern Gothic" by Adia Victoria

Book Recommendations:

South to America by Imani Perry

Shoutin' in the Fire by Danté Stewart

Abolition for the People by Colin Kaepernick

This episode is guest-hosted by Tressie McMillan Cottom, a sociologist and writer whose work focuses on higher education policy, popular culture, race, beauty and more. She writes a weekly New York Times newsletter and is the author of “Thick and Other Essays,” which was a finalist for the National Book Award, and “Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy.” You can follow her on Twitter @TressieMcPhD. (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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

Nov 09, 2021
Best Of: How Octopuses Upend What We Know About Ourselves
00:56:39

I’ve been on an octopus kick for a little while now. 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. 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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

Nov 05, 2021
The Life-Altering Differences Between White and Black Debt
00:58:11

Public policy in the United States often overlooks wealth. We tend to design, debate and measure our economic policies with regard to income alone, which blinds us to the ways prosperity and precarity tangibly function in people’s lives. And that blind spot can ultimately prevent us from addressing social inequality at its roots.

Take the debate over student loan cancellation. Cancellation is often framed as an economically regressive policy — an elite giveaway of sorts — with the majority of benefits going to individuals toward the top end of the income distribution. But that distributive picture flips when you look at wealth instead of income. One recent paper found that if the federal government decided to forgive up to $50,000 in student loan debt, the average person in the 20th to 40th percentiles for household assets would receive more than four times as much debt cancellation as the average person in the top 10 percent.

Louise Seamster is a sociologist at the University of Iowa whose work focuses on the intersection of wealth, race, education and inequality. She’s one of the sharpest minds studying the way systems of wealth creation and depletion shape everything from the benefits of higher education to the barriers to racial equality to the nature of democratic citizenship. And her cutting-edge research on the student debt crisis and the racial wealth gap served as a major source of inspiration for Senator Elizabeth Warren’s $50,000 loan forgiveness plan.

This conversation begins with a discussion of the student debt crisis in particular: what it’s like to live with crushing levels of debt, the debate over whether cancellation is fair to those who have paid off their loans, why you can’t truly understand the student debt crisis without understanding the wealth dynamics that undergird it, how loan forgiveness would alter the racial wealth gap, what an entirely different model for funding higher education would look like and more.

But this discussion is also more broadly about what it means to think in terms of wealth — and its inverse, debt — and what a radically different picture that reveals about the American economy and society.

Mentioned:

Racialized Debts: Racial Exclusion From Credit Tools and Information Networks” by Raphaël Charron-Chénier and Louise Seamster

An Administrative Path to Student Debt Cancellation” by Luke Herrine

Black Debt, White Debt” by Louise Seamster

Student Debt Cancellation IS Progressive: Correcting Empirical and Conceptual Errors” by Charlie Eaton, Adam Goldstein, Laura Hamilton and Frederick Wherry

Student Debt Forgiveness Options: Implications for Policy and Racial Equity” by Raphaël Charron-Chenier, Louise Seamster, Tom Shapiro and Laura Sullivan

Predatory Inclusion and Education Debt: Rethinking the Racial Wealth Gap” by Louise Seamster and Raphaël Charron-Chénier

Racial Disparities in Student Debt and the Reproduction of the Fragile Black Middle Class” by Jason N. Houle and Fenaba R. Addo

Book Recommendations:

The Color of Money by Mehrsa Baradaran

A Pound of Flesh by Alexes Harris

The Sum of Us by Heather McGhee

This episode is guest-hosted by Tressie McMillan Cottom, a sociologist and writer whose work focuses on higher education policy, popular culture, race, beauty and more. She writes a weekly New York Times newsletter and is the author of “Thick and Other Essays,” which was a finalist for the National Book Award, and “Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy.” You can follow her on Twitter @TressieMcPhD. (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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

Nov 02, 2021
Why This Conservative Wants a More Radical Republican Party
01:12:28

“Progressives understand that culture war means discrediting their opponents and weakening or destroying their institutions. Conservatives should approach the culture war with a similar realism,” Sohrab Ahmari writes. “To recognize that enmity is real is its own kind of moral duty.”

Five years ago, Ahmari was a self-described “secular mainstream conservative” working for The Wall Street Journal. Now a contributing editor at The American Conservative and the recently departed op-ed editor at The New York Post, Ahmari has become a fierce critic of the Republican Party as it existed before the rise of Donald Trump, a champion of right-wing populist leaders like Hungary’s Viktor Orban and a devout Catholic who believes social conservatives need to take a far more aggressive posture in the culture war.

Ahmari may be singular, but he is not alone. His political evolution is a microcosm for the ways the American right as a whole has been radicalized in recent decades. Many conservatives today are animated by a profound sense of anxiety about the direction of the country: A feeling that something about the American project has gone deeply, terribly wrong. A visceral fear of a “woke” progressivism with seemingly unmatched cultural power and influence. And a willingness to endorse ideas and leaders once considered fringe.

But Ahmari isn’t just a critic. He’s also one of the leading conservative intellectuals trying to chart a post-Trump future for the Republican Party. One that fuses Bernie Sanders-style economic populism with an aggressive social conservatism that isn’t afraid to use the power of the state to enforce its vision of the common good.

So this conversation begins with Ahmari’s religious and political journey but also explores his heterodox political vision for the Republican Party, the surprising similarities in how radical feminists and religious traditionalists understand the legacy of the sexual revolution, his view that cultural and economic deregulation has decimated the American working class, the possibility of a left-right alliance around banning pornography, and why he views the cultural left and its corporate allies as a greater threat to American democracy than anything Donald Trump can offer.

Mentioned:

From Fire, by Water by Sohrab Ahmari

The Unbroken Thread by Sohrab Ahmari

Book Recommendations:

The Adventures of Tintin by Hergé

The Charterhouse of Parma by Stendhal

The Gnostic Religion by Hans Jonas

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 the author of “The Deep Places: A Memoir of Illness and Discovery” 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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

Oct 29, 2021
Long Covid and the Blind Spots of American Medicine
01:24:04

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

Oct 26, 2021
What Keeping American Democracy Alive Looks Like
00:53:06

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

Oct 22, 2021
The Story of America's Founding You Weren’t Taught in School
00:56:53

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

Oct 19, 2021
A Crypto Optimist and a Crypto Skeptic Walk Into a Podcast Studio
01:07:51

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

Oct 15, 2021
Lessons on Living Well, From Nick Offerman
01:09:02

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

Oct 12, 2021
Let's Talk About the Anxiety Freedom Can Cause
01:05:08

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

Oct 08, 2021
How to Do the Most Good
01:28:32

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

Oct 05, 2021
Eric Adams Has a Message for the Democratic Party
00:48:57

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

Oct 01, 2021
This Conversation With Richard Powers Is a Gift
01:24:23

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

Sep 28, 2021
Opinion Crossover: California Republicans, Facebook and Media Navelgazing
00:34:59

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

Sep 24, 2021
We’re on the Precipice of a Post-Roe World
00:59:56

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

Sep 21, 2021
Economics Needs to Reckon With What It Doesn’t Know
01:16:00

“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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

Sep 17, 2021
How Colson Whitehead Writes About Our ‘Big Wild Country’
00:56:35

“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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

Sep 14, 2021
Tyler Cowen on the Great Stagnation’s End
01:17:32

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

Sep 10, 2021
Can We Change Our Sexual Desires? Should We?
01:05:07

“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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

Sep 07, 2021
This Isn’t Your Grandpa’s Joe Biden
00:54:40

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

Sep 03, 2021
Ask Ezra Anything: Degrowth, Third Parties, Reading and More
01:11:30

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

Aug 31, 2021
The Foreign Policy Conversation Washington Doesn’t Want to Have
00:59:23

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

Aug 27, 2021
This Conversation Will Change How You Think About Trauma
01:17:28

“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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

Aug 24, 2021
The Argument: Should We Say "Hi" to Aliens?
00:36:22

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

Aug 20, 2021
Best of: George Saunders on Kindness in a Cruel World
01:15:52

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

Aug 17, 2021
How Identity Politics Took Over the Republican Party
01:16:44

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

Aug 13, 2021
We’re Living in the World the War on Terror Built
00:58:15

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

Aug 10, 2021
The Good and Bad News About the Delta Variant
00:58:28

“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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

Aug 06, 2021
41 Questions For The Technologies We Use, and That Use Us
00:57:57

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

Aug 03, 2021
Nikole Hannah-Jones and Ta-Nehisi Coates on the Fight Over U.S. History
01:17:41

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

Jul 30, 2021
Ross Douthat Has Been ‘Radicalized a Little Bit, Too’
01:07:45

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

Jul 27, 2021
How Blue Cities Became So Outrageously Unaffordable
01:08:44

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

Jul 23, 2021
Our Workplaces Think We’re Computers. We’re Not.
01:08:14

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

Jul 20, 2021
Ibram X. Kendi on What Conservatives—and Liberals—Get Wrong About Antiracism
01:05:25

“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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

 

Jul 16, 2021
How Octopuses Upend What We Know About Ourselves
00:56:04

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

Jul 13, 2021
Critical Race Theory, Comic Books and the Power of Public Schools
01:26:16

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

Jul 09, 2021
Best of: What ‘Drained-Pool’ Politics Costs America
01:08:55

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

Jul 06, 2021
Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy Wants You to Be Bad at Something. It’s for Your Own Good.
01:11:01

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

 

Jul 02, 2021
Why Do We Work So Damn Much?
01:22:47

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

Jun 29, 2021
Republicans Are Setting Off a ‘Doom Loop’ for Democracy
01:18:29

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

Jun 25, 2021
Sarah Schulman’s Radical Approach to Conflict, Communication and Change
01:01:27

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

Jun 22, 2021
Welcome to the ‘Take This Job and Shove It’ Economy
00:54:03

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

Jun 18, 2021
The Freeing of the American Mind
01:03:35

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

Jun 15, 2021
Sam Altman on the A.I. Revolution, Trillionaires and the Future of Political Power
01:10:56

“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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

Jun 11, 2021
Employers Are Begging for Workers. Maybe That’s a Good Thing.
01:03:52

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

Jun 08, 2021
Is A.I. the Problem? Or Are We?
01:16:39

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

Jun 04, 2021
Obama Explains How America Went From ‘Yes We Can’ to ‘MAGA’
00:58:42

“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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

Jun 01, 2021
Sway: How Online Sleuths Pantsed Putin
00:41:57

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

May 28, 2021
The Argument: Should We Cancel Student Loan Debt?
00:47:48

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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.

May 25, 2021
Violent Crime Is Spiking. Do Liberals Have an Answer?
01:14:06

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

May 21, 2021
The Spectacle of the G.O.P.'s Shrinking Tent
01:02:59

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

May 18, 2021
Status Games, Polyamory and the Merits of Meritocracy
01:21:50

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

May 14, 2021
Michael Lewis Is Asking the Right Question
00:59:44

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

May 11, 2021
Elizabeth Warren on What We Get Wrong About Inequality
00:55:01

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“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.

May 07, 2021
How to Have Better Conversations About Hard Things
01:03:49

Anna Sale is one of my favorite interviewers. As the host of WNYC Studios’ “Death, Sex and Money,” she has an uncanny ability to get her guests to open up about the most personal, tragic, beautiful and embarrassing parts of their lives, whether it’s childhood trauma, the death of a partner or losing control of one’s limbs.

The kinds of conversations Sale has on her show are hard to have in real life. So we rarely have them, even though our relationships and our society and even our politics desperately need them. Thankfully, Sale has written a new book, “Let’s Talk About Hard Things,” which distills the lessons she has learned over the years for the rest of us and offers wisdom for navigating the topics we too often shy away from: death, sex, money, family, identity.

We discuss how society has increasingly pushed the responsibility for having these hard conversations onto individuals, what it takes to be a good listener, the common mistakes people make when supporting grieving friends and family members, why it’s especially hard to communicate with our family members, whether it’s necessary to give up our righteousness to preserve our relationships, the social stigma against talking about money, how to navigate tricky discussions about race and gender, and the art of asking open questions.

Recommendations: 

"Death in Mud Lick" by Eric Eyre

"Crying in H Mart" by Michelle Zauner

"The Secret to Superhuman Strength" by Alison Bechdel

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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

May 04, 2021
How Chuck Schumer Plans to Win Over Trump Voters
00:45:35

In his 100 days address this week, Joe Biden outlined his plans for a big, bold legislative agenda to come. He previewed a two-pronged economic package: the $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan and the $1.8 trillion American Families Plan. He spoke about the need to pass universal background checks for firearms, comprehensive immigration reform, and the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.

The success of that agenda hinges on whether 50 Senate Democrats — ranging from Bernie Sanders to Joe Manchin — can come together and pass legislation. They don’t have a single vote to spare. And the person responsible for making that happens is the New York senator and Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer.

Schumer has a theory of politics that he believes can hold or even win Democrats seats in 2022. It’s not a complicated theory: For Democrats to win over middle-of-the-road voters — including those who voted for Donald Trump — they need to prove that government is actually helping them. But to do that, the government needs to actually help those voters, in clear and visible ways. That means passing big, bold legislation. And the institution Schumer leads — the Senate — is the primary obstacle to that happening.

So I invited Schumer on the show to talk about how exactly he plans on doing that. How do you win over Trump voters? What kinds of economic policies can help deliver Democrats victory in 2022? How should the party approach topics like race and gender? How will he pass bills, like the For The People Act, that can’t go through budget reconciliation? And, of course, what do you do about the filibuster?

Book recommendations: 

"Grant" by Ron Chernow 

"Freedom" by William Safire

"The Power Broker" by Robert Caro 

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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

Apr 30, 2021
Shame, Safety and Moving Beyond Cancel Culture
01:01:23

I’ve been thinking lately about how to move beyond the binary debate over cancel culture. And a good place to start is with the deeper question we’re all trying to ask: What is the kind of politics — the kind of society — we’re trying to achieve in our fights over acceptable speech?

To talk through this question, I wanted to bring on two guests, both of whom have been canceled — one by the left and one by the right — and have since dedicated parts of their work to grappling with both the good and the bad of the phenomenon. When is cancellation merited or useful? When is it insufficient or harmful? And what other tools are available in those cases?

Natalie Wynn runs the YouTube channel ContraPoints. Her videos, on topics ranging from cancel culture to J.K. Rowling, are not only intellectually stimulating and aesthetically rich but also deeply humanizing. What sets Wynn apart is a unique capacity to live inside the heads of those she disagrees with vehemently and bring them into a dialogue with her.

Will Wilkinson was the vice president for research at the Niskanen Center. He was fired after a right-wing online mob attacked a clearly satirical tweet he’d sent. Since being canceled, Wilkinson has, surprisingly, become one of the most outspoken critics of the anti-cancel-culture discourse. He now writes the great newsletter Model Citizen, hosts a podcast of the same name and contributes to Times Opinion.

The result is a very different kind of cancel culture conversation. We discuss the universal yearning for safe spaces, the psychology of the social media pile-on, the political limits of social shame, the pathways to persuasion and humanization, theories of social change, the virtues of an effective political communicator, how social media shapes the way we act and think online and much, much more.

Mentioned in this episode: 

"A Different Way of Thinking About Cancel Culture" by Ezra Klein

“Canceling” by ContraPoints 

“J.K. Rowling” by ContraPoints

“Undefined Cancel Game” by Will Wilkinson 

“The Boring Truth vs ‘Cancel Culture’ Panic” by Will Wilkinson 

Recommendations: 

"Conflict is Not Abuse" by Sarah Schulman

"The Tao is Silent" by Raymond Smullyan

If you enjoyed this show, you should check out The Argument's recent episode: "Is It Time to Cancel Cancel Culture?" 

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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

Apr 27, 2021
Noam Chomsky’s Theory of the Good Life
01:12:30

How do you introduce Noam Chomsky? Perhaps you start here: In 1979, The New York Times called him “arguably the most important intellectual alive today.” More than 40 years later, Chomsky, at 92, is still putting his dent in the world — writing books, giving interviews, changing minds.

There are different sides to Chomsky. He’s a world-renowned linguist who revolutionized his field. He’s a political theorist who’s been a sharp critic of American foreign policy for decades. He’s an anarchist who believes in a radically different way of ordering society. He’s a pragmatist who pushed leftists to vote for Joe Biden in 2020 and has described himself as having a “rather conservative attitude towards social change.” He is, very much, himself.

The problem in planning a conversation with Chomsky is how to get at all these different sides. So this one covers a lot of ground. We discuss:

— Why Chomsky is an anarchist, and how he defines anarchism

— How his work on language informs his idea of what human beings want

— The role of advertising in capitalism

— Whether we should understand job contracts as the free market at work or a form of constant coercion

— How Chomsky’s ideal vision of society differs from Nordic social democracy

— How Chomsky’s class-based theory of politics holds up in an era where college-educated suburbanites are moving left on economics

— Chomsky’s view of the climate crisis and why he thinks the “degrowth” movement is misguided

— Whether job automation could actually be a good thing for human flourishing

— Chomsky’s views on US-China policy, and why he doesn’t think China is a major geopolitical threat

— The likelihood of nuclear war in the next decade

And much more.

Mentioned in this episode: 

On Anarchism by Noam Chomsky 

Climate Crisis and the Global Green New Deal by Noam Chomsky and Robert Pollin

 “Why the Amazon Workers Never Stood a Chance” by Erik Loomis 

“Trends in Income From 1975 to 2018” by Carter C. Price and Kathryn A. Edwards 

“This is What Minimum Wage Would Be If It Kept Pace with Productivity” by Dean Baker

“There is no Plan B for dealing with the climate crisis” by Raymond Pierrehumbert

Recommendations: 

"The Last of the Just" by Andre Schwarz-Bart

"All God's Dangers: The Life of Nate Shaw" by Theodore Rosengarten

Selected essays by Ahad Ha'am

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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

Apr 23, 2021
That Anxiety You’re Feeling? It’s a Habit You Can Unlearn.
00:59:16

This has been a bad year for the anxious among us — myself very much included. The pandemic was objectively terrifying. And many of us were trapped inside, with nothing we could do about it, severed from social connection and routine, with plenty of time to fret.

But that almost gives anxiety, at least as I experience it, too much credit. This year, anyway, being anxious made sense. It so often doesn’t. Your mind has so much power and capacity, and there are so many real problems to solve or wonders to contemplate, and instead you’re obsessively ruminating over something that happened three years ago or might happen three years from now.

So, what is anxiety? How do we learn it as a behavior? And more to the point, how do we unlearn it?

Jud Brewer is an associate professor of psychiatry at Brown University, where he is the director of research and innovation at the Mindfulness Center. I’ve followed his work on meditation and addiction for years, and his new book, “Unwinding Anxiety: New Science Shows How to Break the Cycles of Worry and Fear to Heal Your Mind” applies that research to anxiety, which he understands as a kind of addiction. And just like with any addiction, you have to understand its rewards in order to begin addressing it.

It’s a powerful framework, and one I’ve found useful in my own life. I’m not saying his book, or this conversation, cured me of anxiety. But it helped me understand it better. I hope it’ll do the same for you

Recommendations: 

"The Art of Racing in the Rain" by Garth Stein

"Barbarian Days" by William Finnegan

"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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

Apr 20, 2021
Why Adults Lose the ‘Beginner’s Mind’
01:01:07

Here’s a sobering thought: The older we get, the harder it is for us to learn, to question, to reimagine. This isn’t just habit hardening into dogma. It’s encoded into the way our brains change as we age. And it’s worsened by an intellectual and economic culture that prizes efficiency and dismisses play.

Alison Gopnik is a professor of psychology and philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, where she runs the Cognitive Development and Learning Lab; she’s also the author of over 100 papers and half a dozen books, including “The Gardener and the Carpenter” and “The Philosophical Baby.” What I love about her work is she takes the minds of children seriously. The child’s mind is tuned to learn. They are, she writes, the R. & D. departments of the human race. But a mind tuned to learn works differently from a mind trying to exploit what it already knows.

So instead of asking what children can learn from us, perhaps we need to reverse the question: What can we learn from them?

In this conversation, Gopnik and I discuss the way children think, the cognitive reasons social change so often starts with the young, and the power of play. We talk about why Gopnik thinks children should be considered an entirely different form of Homo sapiens, the crucial difference between “spotlight” consciousness and “lantern” consciousness, why “going for a walk with a 2-year-old is like going for a walk with William Blake,” what A.I. researchers are borrowing from human children, the effects of different types of meditation on the brain and more.

Recommendations: 

"Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak

"Mary Poppins in the Park" by P.L. Travers

"The Children of Green Knowe" by L. M. Boston

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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

Apr 16, 2021
Your Success Probably Didn’t Come From Merit Alone
01:22:34

Prepping for a conversation with Tressie McMillan Cottom is intimidating. McMillan Cottom is a sociologist at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, a 2020 MacArthur fellow, co-host of the podcast “Hear to Slay,” and the author of the essay collection “Thick,” which was a National Book Award finalist. And she’s one of those people who can seemingly write on anything: The way for-profit colleges generate inequality, the cultural meaning of Dolly Parton, the way the U.S. medical profession treats Black women, how beauty operates in contemporary America, the role of hustle in the economy — the list just keeps going.

And so did this conversation, in the end. I barely made it through a third of my planned questions because so many interesting topics came up in each answer. We discuss the dangers of nostalgia, the social construction of smartness, the moral panics gripping America, why journalists are racing to platforms like Substack, how different mediums of communication shape our conversations, the central role status plays in American life, her research on the root causes of the uptick in “deaths of despair,” how beauty is constructed and wielded and much, much more. This is one of those conversations that could’ve gone on for four more hours.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Recommendations:

"Minor Feelings" by Cathy Park Hong

"Fearing the Black Body" by Sabrina Strings

"The Chosen" by Jerome Karabel

"Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry" by Mildred 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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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

Apr 13, 2021
The Best Explanation of Biden's Thinking I’ve Heard
00:56:46

With the $2 trillion American Jobs Plan, the economic theory that is Bidenomics is taking shape. It’s big. It puts climate at the center of everything. It is more worried about political risks — losing the House, giving Donald Trump a path back to power — than some traditional economic risks, like wasting money and bumping up inflation. It prefers to err on the side of spending more and making sure people know they got a bridge or a job than doing less and having people question whether government is working for them. But I still have a lot of questions about Bidenomics, in terms of both its economic theories and its political ones.

Brian Deese is the director of the National Economic Council, the nerve center that coordinates economic policy across the executive branch. He led the auto bailout in the Obama administration and then turned to climate, first in the Obama White House and then at BlackRock. When President Biden brought him on to run the N.E.C., it was a message: In the Biden administration, all economics was going to be climate economics.

I asked Deese to join me on the podcast to talk about how his economic policymaking and thinking have changed since 2009, what the Biden administration learned from the successes and failures of the Obama era, why so much of the White House’s economic policy is framed in terms of competition with China, why he doesn’t think a carbon tax is the right answer for climate, how the Biden administration will invest in the care economy and more.

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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

Apr 09, 2021
Did the Boomers Ruin America? A Debate.
01:10:52

Donald Trump was the fourth member of the baby boomer generation to be elected president, after Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. The Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, is a boomer. Chief Justice John Roberts is a boomer. The Federal Reserve chair, Jerome Powell, is a boomer. President Joe Biden and Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, were born a few years too early to officially qualify as boomers, but they’re close. We’re living in the world the boomers and nearly boomers built, and are still building.

This is not, to younger Americans, a comfort. One 2018 poll found that just over half of millennials said that boomers made things worse for their generation; only 13 percent said they made things better. Then there was the rise of the “OK Boomer” meme in 2019, an all-purpose dismissal of boomer politics and rhetoric. But the boomers are a vast group, as are all generations. So is this a useful category for political argument? And even if it is, what, precisely, is it that the boomers did wrong?

Jill Filipovic is a journalist, former lawyer and the author of “OK Boomer, Let’s Talk: How My Generation Got Left Behind,” a primarily economic critique of the boomer generation from the left. Helen Andrews is a senior editor at The American Conservative and author of “Boomers: The Men and Women Who Promised Freedom and Delivered Disaster,” a searing cultural critique of the boomers from the right.

Filipovic and Andrews, both of whom are millennials (as am I), agree that the boomers left our generation worse off; but they disagree on just about everything else, which makes this conversation all the more interesting. We discuss the value of generational analysis, the legacy of the sexual revolution, the impact of boomer economic policies, the decline of the nuclear family, the so-called millennial sex recession, the millennial affordability crisis, the impact of pornography, how much the critique of the boomers is really a critique of technological change and much more.

Mentioned in this episode: 

American Compass survey on family preferences 

"The share of Americans not having sex has reached a record high"  by Christopher Ingraham

"The Rise of Childless America"  by Lyman Stone

Jill’s recommendations: 

"The Culture of Narcissism" by Christopher Lasch

"Can't Even" by Anne Helen Petersen

"Goodnight Moon" by Margaret Wise Brown

Helen’s recommendations: 

"A Tale of Two Utopias" by Paul Berman

"Coming of Age on Zoloft" by Katherine Sharpe

"A Book of Americans" by Stepehen Vincent Benét

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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

Apr 06, 2021
Humanity’s Awesome, Terrifying Takeover of Evolution
00:55:37

For years now, I’ve had the same recurring worry: Am I focusing on the trivial? When future generations look back on this moment in history, will they remember the daily political fights — or will everything just look like a sideshow compared to humans being able to edit genetic code? 

The technology I’m referring to, known as CRISPR, could cure genetic diseases like sickle-cell anemia and Huntington’s. It could let us regulate height, hair color, and vulnerabilities in our children. And, one day, it has the potential to imbue human beings with superhuman characteristics — making us stronger, faster, smarter. Nor is it just us. CRISPR lets us edit other animals and plants, with all kinds of beckoning possibilities, some wonderful, some terrible. We cannot do all this yet. But it’s coming, and soon. 

Walter Isaacson is the former editor of Time magazine, the former head of CNN, and author of biographies of everyone from Albert Einstein to Benjamin Franklin to Steve Jobs. However, his newest book, “The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race” is much more than a biography of Jennifer Doudna, a Nobel Prize winning scientist who was essential to developing CRISPR. It’s a biography of the scientific process that led to CRISPR, and the people trying to understand its moral, political and human implications.

In this conversation, I get to ask Isaacson the questions I’ve wanted to focus on myself: Is it wrong to edit your kid’s genes? Is it cruel not to? What happens when CRISPR and capitalism collide? Will we witness the rise of a superhuman genetic elite? And what kind of political and economic systems do we need to start building  to ensure this technology is used in just ways?

Recommendations: 

"The Bully Pulpit" by Doris Kearns Goodwin

"The Moviegoer" by Walker Percy

"The Eighth Day of Creation" by Horace Freeland Judson

"Winnie the Pooh" by A.A. Milne

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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

Apr 02, 2021
The Author Behind ‘Arrival’ Doesn’t Fear AI. ‘Look at How We Treat Animals.’
00:50:16

For years, I’ve kept a list of dream guests for this show. And as long as that list has existed, Ted Chiang has been atop it.

Chiang is a science fiction writer. But that undersells him. He has released two short story collections over 20 years — 2002’s “Stories of Your Life and Others” and 2019’s “Exhalation.” Those stories have won more awards than I can list, and one of them was turned into the film “Arrival.” They are remarkable pieces of work: Each is built around a profound scientific, philosophical or religious idea, and then the story or the story structure is shaped to represent that idea. They are wonders of precision and craft. But unlike a lot of science fiction, they are never cold. Chiang’s work is deeply, irrepressibly humane.

I’ve always wondered about the mind that would create Chiang’s stories. And in this conversation I got to watch it in action. Chiang doesn’t like to talk about himself. But he does like to talk about ideas. And so we do: We discuss the difference between magic and technology, why superheroes fight crime but ignore injustice, what it would do to the human psyche if we knew the future is fixed, whether free will exists, whether we’d want to know the exact date of our deaths, why Chiang fears what humans will do to artificial intelligence more than what A.I. will do to humans, the way capitalism turns people against technology, and much more.

The ideas Chiang offered in this conversation are still ringing in my head, and changing the way I see the world. It’s worth taking your time with this one.

Recommendations: 

"Creation" by Steve Grand

"On the Measure of Intelligence" by Francois Chollet

"CivilWarLand in Bad Decline" by George Saunders

"A Visit from the Goon Squad" by Jennifer Egan

"Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise" (movie)

"On Fragile Waves" by Lily Yu

"Pilgrim at Tinker Creek" by Annie Dillard

Control (video game)

Return of the Obra Dinn (video game)

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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

Mar 30, 2021
A Top G.O.P. Pollster on Trump 2024, QAnon and What Republicans Really Want
01:00:58

In the aftermath of the Capitol attack, the polling firm Echelon Insights decided to ask voters a simple question: Do they think the goal of politics is more about “enacting good public policy” or “ensuring the country’s survival as we know it?”

Only 25 percent of Republicans said politics is about policy; nearly half said it’s about survival. That’s today’s Republican Party in a nutshell.

I’ve had some recent conversations with Republicans who are trying to reform their party, to push it back toward policy and, in some cases, reality. But, for now, we’re governing with the Republican Party we have, not the Republican Party many want. So what does that Republican Party, the real Republican Party, believe?

Kristen Soltis Anderson is a Republican pollster, host of Sirius XM’s “The Trendline,” and co-founder of Echelon Insights. She has done some of the most in-depth surveys of Republican voters to date: the issues that animate them, the traits they look for in presidential candidates, how they consume information, their faith in Donald Trump and much more. So I asked her about what today’s Republicans believe, and what that reveals about where the party is going next.

Recommendations: 

"Grand New Party" by Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam

"Resonate" by Nancy Duarte

“Generations Status and Party Identification, A Theory of Operant Conditioning” by Keith Billingsley and Clyde Tucker

"Dragons Love Tacos" by Adam Rubin

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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

Mar 26, 2021
An Unusually Optimistic Conversation With Bernie Sanders
00:28:57

Bernie Sanders didn’t win the 2020 election. But he may have won its aftermath.

If you look back at Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders’s careers, the $1.9 trillion stimulus package, the American Rescue Plan, looks a lot like the proposals Sanders has fought for forever, without much of the compromise or concerns that you used to see from Senator Joe Biden. That’s not to take anything away from Biden. He’s the president. This is his plan. And it is to his credit that he saw what the country needed, what the politics of the moment would support and where his party had moved, and met it with full force.

But Sanders’s two presidential campaigns are part of the reason that the Democratic Party had moved, and the politics of the moment had changed. And so I’ve wondered what Sanders makes of this moment. Is it a triumph? A disappointment? A beginning?

And I’ve wondered about his take on some of the other questions swirling around the Democratic Party: Are liberals alienating people who agree with them on economics by being too censorious on culture? Is there room to work with populist Republicans who might be open to new economic ideas even as they turn against liberal democracy itself?

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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

Mar 23, 2021
Andrew Cuomo and the Performance of Power
01:05:02

Six months ago, Andrew Cuomo was on top of the world. He was touted as the anti-Donald Trump — the calm, fact-driven coronavirus leader the country needed. Now, amid allegations of hiding the true number of Covid-19 deaths in New York nursing homes and of workplace sexual harassment and abusive behavior, most of the state’s major Democratic politicians are calling for Cuomo’s resignation.

Rebecca Traister is a writer at large at New York magazine and the author of “Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger.” Last week, Traister published an extraordinary piece on the allegations against Cuomo. For her, the Andrew Cuomo story is a lot bigger than just Andrew Cuomo; it’s about the nature of toxic workplaces and the desire — even among Democrats — for strongmen leaders. And more than that, it’s about what we’ve been taught leadership looks like, and how the aesthetic of the tough, domineering male leader covers up, or contributes to, poor leadership.

So I wanted to bring Traister on the show to discuss the details of the Cuomo story and its broader implications. We discuss what Cuomo has actually been accused of (including Traister’s own in-depth reporting), why we often mistake bullying for leadership, what blind spots the Cuomo story reveals among liberals, the trade-offs between projecting an aesthetic of power and actually governing, why white male rage is so accepted and even admired, the parallels between Cuomo and Trump, how this story recasts reporting on Hillary Clinton and Amy Klobuchar, the double bind faced by female politicians, and much more.

Mentioned in this episode: 

"Abuse and Power" by Rebecca Traister, New York magazine

Recommendations: 

"The House of Mirth" by Edith Wharton

"A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" by Betty Smith

"Another Brooklyn" by Jacqueline Woodson

"My Ántonia" by Willa Cather

"Then We Came to the End" by Joshua Ferris

"All the King’s Men" by Robert Penn Warren

"Unbought and Unbossed" by Shirley Chisholm

"The Elephant and the Bad Baby" by Elfrida Vipont

"The Church Mouse" by Graham Oakley

"Tar Beach" by Faith Ringgold

"The Highway Rat" by Julia Donaldson

"The Complete 8-Book Ramona Collection" by Beverly Cleary

"When You Reach Me" by Rebecca Stead

"The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963" by Christopher Paul Curtis

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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

Mar 19, 2021
Mark Bittman Cooked Everything. Now He Wants to Change Everything.
00:48:54

Mark Bittman taught me to cook. I read his New York Times cooking column, “The Minimalist,” religiously. I bought “How to Cook Everything,” that red brick of a cookbook, and then, when I gave up meat, I bought its green companion, “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.” He was like my cranky, no-B.S. food uncle.

But now Bittman wants to do more than teach me, or you, how to cook. He wants to convince us that the whole food system has fallen into calamity. His new book, "Animal, Vegetable, Junk" is a stunning reinterpretation of humanity’s relationship to the food it forages, grows and, nowadays, concocts. It’s about the marvel of the modern food system, which feeds more than seven billion people and offers more food, with more variety, at less cost, than ever before. But even more so, it’s about the malignancy of that food system, which is sickening us, poisoning the planet and inflicting so much suffering on other creatures that the mind breaks contemplating it.

Even as someone who is fairly critical of our modern food system, I wasn’t prepared for the scale or sweep of Bittman’s indictment. And I’m not sure I’ve bought into every piece of it. But it is bracing. And it raises profound questions about the relationship among humans, animals, plants, capitalism, technology and morality. So I asked him on the show to discuss it.

Recommendations: 

"Classic Indian Cooking" by Julie Sahni

"How to Cook Everything Vegetarian" by Mark Bittman

"Lord Emsworth" by P.G. Wodehouse

"The New Book of Middle Eastern Food" by Claudia Roden

"The Old World Kitchen: The Rich Tradition of European Peasant Cooking" by Elisabeth Luard

"The Optimist's Telescope" by Bina Venkataraman

"The Wuggie Norple Story" by Daniel Manus Pinkwater and Tomie dePaola

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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

Mar 16, 2021
How America’s Covid-19 Nightmare Ends
01:01:10

On Jan. 28, I published a column that began like this: “I hope, in the end, that this article reads as alarmism. I hope that a year from now it’s a piece people point to as an overreaction.”

Today, that column, thankfully, does look like alarmism. Cases fell, and kept falling, even in places beset by new variants. The U.S. vaccination effort accelerated. And there’s going to be vastly more vaccine supply in the coming months.

Few emotions are as unnerving right now as hope. No one wants to permit themselves optimism, only to be crushed when death tolls rise. But the case for hope is strengthening. And there are important policy reasons to take that case seriously.

Dr. Ashish Jha is a physician, leading health policy researcher and dean of the Brown University School of Public Health. He’s been one of the clearest and most thoughtful voices through this crisis. And he’s feeling hopeful, too. 

So I asked Jha on the show to guide us through these next months, to help us see what he’s seeing. Don’t get him, or me, wrong: This isn’t over. But in America, things are going to feel very, very different in 45 days, for reasons he explains. And then comes another question: How do we make sure the global end to this crisis comes soon after?

A note: This episode was recorded before President Biden’s March 11 address directing states to make all adult Americans eligible to receive Covid vaccines by no later than May 1; however, the timeline Jha and I discuss here is just as ambitious and its implications are just as promising.

This is one Covid discussion, finally, that is not going to leave you feeling in despair.

Recommendations: 

"LikeWar" by P. W. Singer and Emerson T. Brooking

"The Autobiography of Malcolm X" by Malcolm X and Alex Haley

"The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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

Mar 12, 2021
What Does Toxic Stress Do to Children?
01:06:13

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris’s pioneering work on how childhood trauma shapes adult outcomes led to her being named the first surgeon general of California. That was in 2019. And then, of course, the novel coronavirus hit. The job of California’s surgeon general in 2020 was not what it was in 2019. But in some ways, Burke Harris’s expertise was more necessary than ever.

This conversation is about the growing evidence that difficult experiences we face as children reverberate in our lives decades later. It’s profound research that should reshape how we think about social insurance, public morality and criminal justice. But it’s also a conversation about what the coronavirus has done to children — whether this year will be a trauma that marks a generation, and remakes their lives. How has it changed socialization for toddlers — like my 2-year-old son? What has it meant for children who can’t go to school, who watched their parents lose work or who had family members die alone in a hospital? How do we help them? How do we even understand what they’ve gone through, particularly when they can’t tell us?

We also discuss the lessons California learned from the early difficulties in its vaccine rollout (“simplicity saves lives,” Burke Harris says), why we need to be investing a lot more in mental health therapeutics, the debate over universal child allowances, how to address racial and income disparities in vaccine distribution, the drivers of vaccine hesitancy in Black and brown communities, what a safe path to post-pandemic reopening would look like, why Covid-19 cases have been declining across the country, and much more.

This is one of those conversations that will leave you looking at vast swaths of public policy differently. Don’t miss it.

Mentioned in this episode:

The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity by Nadine Burke Harris

“Roadmap for Resilience: The California Surgeon General’s Report on Adverse Childhood Experiences, Toxic Stress, and Health”

“Relationship of childhood abuse and household dysfunction to many of the leading causes of death in adults. The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study”

“The prevalence of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) in the lives of juvenile offenders”

“Adverse childhood experiences and the risk of premature mortality” 

Recommendations: 

"Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers" by Robert Sapolsky

"The Emotional Life of the Toddler" by Alicia Lieberman

"The Woman Behind the New Deal" by Kirstin Downey

"The Runaway Bunny" by Margaret Wise 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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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

Mar 09, 2021
Stop. Breathe. We Can’t Keep Working Like This.
00:54:16

We were promised, with the internet, a productivity revolution. We were told that we’d get more done, in less time, with less stress. Instead, we got always-on communication, the dissolution of the boundaries between work and home, the feeling of constantly being behind, lackluster productivity numbers, and, to be fair, reaction GIFs. What went wrong?

Cal Newport is a computer scientist at Georgetown and the author of books trying to figure that out. At the center of his work is the idea that the technologies billed as offering us more productive, happier, socially rich lives have left us more exhausted, empty and stressed out than ever. He’s doing something not enough people do: questioning whether this was all worth it.

My critique of Newport’s work has always been that it focuses too much on the individual: Telling someone whose workplace communicates exclusively via Slack and email to be a “digital minimalist” is like telling someone who lives in a candy store to diet. But his new book, “A World Without Email,” is all about systems — specifically, the systems that govern how we work. In it, Newport makes a radical argument: We are living through a massive, rolling failure of markets and firms to rethink work for the digital age. But that can change. We can change it.

Recommendations: 

"Technics and Civilization" by Lewis Mumford

"Five Things We Need to Know About Technological Change" by Neil Postman

“A Continuous Shape” (video)

"Andrew Henry's Meadow" by Doris Burn

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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

Mar 05, 2021
What a More Responsible Republican Party Would Look Like
00:58:12

If you watched this past weekend’s Conservative Political Action Conference, you heard a lot of debunked election conspiracies, dire warnings about “cancel culture” and unwavering fealty to Donald Trump. What you didn’t hear was much in the way of policy ideas to raise wages, improve health care or support families. This is the modern G.O.P.: a post-policy party obsessed with symbolic fights and curiously uninterested in the actual work of governing. But does it have to be that way?

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor at National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a Republican wonk who is pushing his party in a more responsible, policy-centric direction. We discuss:

— Why Republicans have lost interest in policy.

— Whether Trump would have won the presidency if Senate Republicans had passed a big stimulus bill before the 2020 election.

— Why Ponnuru thinks the Republican Party’s 2024 hopefuls have learned the wrong lesson from Trump’s 2016 victory.

— The conservative case for a universal child allowance.

— Why so few Republican politicians have openly endorsed the Romney child allowance plan — and what that says about the tensions within the party’s coalition.

— What it would take for Republicans to move away from being a “business owners’” party and toward being a “parents’” party.

— Why Ponnuru thinks Republicans should support limiting, or outright banning, just-in-time scheduling practices.

— Whether there was ever a mass constituency for Paul Ryan’s version of conservatism.

— Who are the most important emerging voices on the political right today.

And much more.

Recommendations: 

"The Great Debate" by Yuval Levin

"The Upside-Down Constitution" by Michael S. Greve

"Popular Crime" by Bill James

"The Chronicles of Narnia" by C.S. Lewis

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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

Mar 02, 2021
How the Texas Crisis Could Become Everyone's Crisis
01:20:28

Last week, freezing temperatures overwhelmed the Texas power grid, setting off rolling blackouts that left millions without power during an intense winter storm. But this story is a lot bigger than Texas: Our world is built around a model of the climate from the 19th and 20th centuries. Global warming is going to crack that model apart, and with it, much of the physical and political infrastructure civilization relies on.

At the same time, there’s good news on the climate front, too. The Biden administration has rejoined the Paris climate accords, pushed through a blitz of executive orders on the environment, and is planning a multitrillion-dollar climate bill. China has also set newly ambitious targets for decarbonization. Renewable energy is getting cheaper, faster, than almost anyone dared hope. And if you follow climate models, you know the most catastrophic outcomes have become less likely in recent years.

I wanted to have a conversation about both the emergency in Texas, and the broader picture on climate. Leah Stokes is a political scientist at University of California, Santa Barbara, and author of the excellent book “Short Circuiting Policy,” which, among other things, explores Texas’ surprising history with renewables. David Wallace-Wells is an editor at large at New York magazine and author of "The Uninhabitable Earth," one of the most sobering, disquieting portraits of our future — though he is, as you’ll hear in this discussion, getting a bit more optimistic.

We discuss whether the Texas crisis is going to be the new normal worldwide, the harrowing implications of how Texas Republicans have responded, why liberals should be cheering on Elon Musk, the difficulties liberal states are having on climate policy, the obstacles to decarbonization, the horrifying truth of what “adapting” to climate change will actually entail, why air pollution alone is a public health crisis worth solving, whether nuclear energy is the answer, and much more. I learned so much getting to sit in on this conversation. You will, too.

Mentioned in this episode:

Migration towards Bangladesh coastlines projected to increase with sea level rise through 2100” by AR Bell, et al.

“Inequity in consumption of goods and services adds to racial–ethnic disparities in air pollution exposure” by Christopher W. Tessum, et al.

“Wildfire Exposure Increases Pro-Environment Voting within Democratic but Not Republican Areas” by Chad Hazlett and Matto Mildenberger

Prisoners of the Wrong Dilemma: Why Distributive Conflict, Not Collective Action, Characterizes the Politics of Climate Change” by Michaël Aklin and Matto Mildenberger

Recommendations: 

"Short Circuiting Policy" by Leah Stokes

"The Lorax" by Dr. Seuss

"Under a White Sky" by Elizabeth Kolbert

"The Ministry for the Future" by Kim Stanley Robinson

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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

Feb 26, 2021
A Radical Proposal for True Democracy
00:44:44

One thing I want to do on this show is give space to truly radical ideas, to expand the boundaries of our political and moral imaginations. And Hélène Landemore, a political scientist at Yale, has one of those ideas. She calls it “open democracy,” and the premise is simple: What we call democracy is not very democratic.

The role of the people is confined to elections, to choosing the elites who will represent us. Landemore argues that our political thinking is stuck in “18th-century epistemologies and technologies.” It is not enough.

We’ve learned much in the last few hundred years about random sampling, about the benefits of cognitively diverse groups, about the ways elections are captured by those with the most social and financial capital. Landemore wants to take what we’ve learned and build a new vision of democracy atop it — one in which we let groups of randomly selected citizens actually deliberate and govern. One in which we trust deliberation and diversity, not elections and political parties, to shape our ideas and to restrain our worst impulses.

This is a challenging idea. I don’t know that it would work. But it’s a provocation worth wrestling with, particularly at this moment, when our ideas about democracy have so far outpaced the thin, corrupted ways in which we practice it.

You’ve heard people say, “We’re a republic, not a democracy.” Landemore’s challenge is this: What if we were a democracy? We honor those who came before us for radically reimagining who could govern, and how politics could work. But did they really discover the terminal state of democracy? Or are there bold steps left for us to take?

Recommendations:

"Liquid Reign" by Tim Reutemann

"The Three Musketeers" by Alexandre Dumas

"The Principles of Representative Government" by Bernard Manin

Mortelle Adèle Book Series

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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

Feb 23, 2021
What It Means to be Kind in a Cruel World
01:15:48

George 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 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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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

Feb 19, 2021
What ‘Drained-Pool’ Politics Costs America
01:08:55

“The American landscape was once graced with resplendent public swimming pools, some big enough to hold thousands of swimmers at a time,” writes Heather McGhee in her new 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.

It’s a shocking tale. But it’s too easily dismissed as yet one more story of America’s racist past. McGhee shows otherwise. Drained-pool politics are still with us today and shaping issues of far more consequence than pool access. Drained-pool politics — if “they” can also have it, then no one can — helps explain why America still doesn’t have a truly universal health care system, a child care system, a decent social safety net. McGhee, the former president of the think tank Demos, offers a devastating tour of American public policy, and she shows how drained-pool politics have led to less for everyone, not just their intended targets.

I asked McGhee to join me for a discussion about drained-pool politics, the zero-sum stories at the heart of American policymaking, how people define and understand their political interests, and the path forward. This is, in my view, a hopeful book, and a hopeful conversation. There are so many issues where the trade-offs are real, and binding. But in this space, there are vast “solidarity dividends” just 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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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

Feb 16, 2021
The Senate Is Making a Mockery of Itself
01:09:37

The Senate is where Joe Biden’s agenda will live or die. More specifically, the intricacies of archaic Senate rules — the budget reconciliation process, the filibuster, the majority leader’s ability to control the floor — combined with the fealty today’s senators have to yesterday’s structures will decide the agenda’s fate. It would be the gravest mistake for progressives, or anyone else, to consider the fight over how the Senate works to be a sideshow compared with debates over a $15 minimum wage, a Green New Deal or democracy reform. The fight over how the Senate works is what will decide all those other debates.

Adam Jentleson served as deputy chief of staff to Senator Harry Reid when he was the majority leader. Jentleson was high enough to see how the institution really worked, and young enough to be free of gauzy nostalgia from the days of yore. And his book, "Kill Switch: The Rise of the Modern Senate and the Crippling of American Democracy," is both blistering and persuasive. “This is not a particularly uplifting history,” Jentleson writes. But nor is it without hope. “Unlike many of the structural features that determine the politics of our era, the Senate is relatively easy to reform.”

So I invited Jentleson on my podcast, “The Ezra Klein Show,” to explain how the modern Senate really works, why it works that way, and how to fix it. Along the way, we discuss what can — and crucially can’t — be passed through budget reconciliation, why senators like Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema continue to defend the filibuster (and why Jentleson thinks they will change their minds), the foundational myths of the Senate, like the idea that the modern filibuster encourages compromise, how Mitch McConnell understands the American political system better than his opponents and much more.

Recommendations:

"Double Indemnity" by James Cain

"Master of the Senate" by Robert Caro

"The Sum of Us" by Heather McGhee

"Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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

Feb 12, 2021
Should We Dim the Sun? Will We Even Have a Choice?
00:56:01

“We are as gods and might as well get good at it,” Stewart Brand famously wrote in “The Whole Earth Catalogue.” Human beings act upon nature at fantastic scale, altering whole ecosystems, terraforming the world to our purposes, breeding new species into existence and driving countless more into extinction. The power we wield is awesome. But Brand was overly optimistic. We did not get good at it. We are terrible at it, and the consequences surround us.

That’s the central theme of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist Elizabeth Kolbert’s new book, “Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future.” And yet, there is no going back. We will not return to a prelapsarian period where humans let nature alone. Indeed, as Kolbert shows, there is no natural nature left — we live in the world (and in particular, a climate) we altered, and are altering. The awful knowledge that our interventions have gone awry again and again must be paired with the awful reality that we have no choice save to try to manage the mess we have made.

Examples abound in Kolbert’s book, but in my conversation with her  I wanted to focus on one that obsesses me: solar geoengineering. To even contemplate it feels like the height of hubris. Are we really going to dim the sun? And yet, any reasonable analysis of the mismatch between our glacial politics and our rapidly warming planet demands that we deny ourselves the luxury of only contemplating the solutions we would prefer. With every subsequent day that our politics fails, the choices that we will need to make in the future become worse.

This is a conversation about some of the difficult trade-offs and suboptimal options that we are left with in what Kolbert describes as a “no-analog moment.” We discuss the prospect of intentionally sending sulfurous particles into the atmosphere to dim the sun, whether “carbon capture” technology could scale up to the levels needed to make a dent in emissions levels, the ethics of using gene editing technologies to make endangered species more resistant to climate change, the governance mechanisms needed to prevent these technologies from getting out of hand, what a healthier narrative about humanity’s relationship with nature would sound like, how the pandemic altered carbon emissions, and more.

At the end, we discuss another fascinating question that Kolbert wrote about recently in The New Yorker: Why is a Harvard astrophysicist arguing Earth has already been visited by aliens, and should we believe him?

Mentioned in this episode: 

Whole Earth Catalogue

Field Notes from a Catastrophe by Elizabeth Kolbert

The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert

The Ministry of the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson

Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth by Avi Loeb

Recommendations: 

"The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald

"The Complete Stories of Franz Kafka"

"The Song of the Dodo" by David Quammen

"Global Warming (The Complete Briefing)" by John Houghton

"Cosmicomics" by Italo Calvino

"The Phantom Tollbooth" by Norton Juster

"Charlotte’s Web" by E.B. White

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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

Feb 09, 2021
An Appalled Republican Considers the Future of the G.O.P.
01:25:17

"I don’t think conservatism can do its job in a free society in opposition to the institutions of that society,” Yuval Levin told me. “I think it can only function in defense of them.”

Levin is the director of social, cultural and constitutional studies at the American Enterprise Institute, as well as the author of a number of great books, most recently, “A Time to Build.” I wanted to talk to him about a very specific question, though: What will the Republican Party become? Levin is one of its most thoughtful and sober analysts — a temperament that may, I realize, make him unsuited to interpreting its current incarnation, in which a majority of House Republicans voted to reject the results of the 2020 presidential election and one of them is, well, Marjorie Taylor Greene.

But Levin’s diagnosis is interesting. Histories of the modern Republican Party often place Ronald Reagan at their center. That is, in Levin’s view, a mistake. “I think Reagan is better understood as a detour from a history that is otherwise a story of a constant struggle between populism and conservatism,” he said. Donald Trump was an inheritor of a tradition that stretches long before him — Pat Buchanan’s tradition, and Strom Thurmond’s tradition. He didn’t form a new Republican Party; he allowed a long-existing part to express itself.

Behind that lie institutional changes both in the Republican Party and in the broader structure of American politics. That’s why I wanted to talk to Levin for this episode of “The Ezra Klein Show”: He, like me, thinks in terms of institutions. “The question for us in the coming years is whether we can move a little more in the direction of a politics of ‘what does government do,’ and less of a politics of ‘who rules,’” he says.

That’s exactly the right question, in my view. But we have very different views of what kinds of institutional changes would get us there. I’d like to see a more democratized, majoritarian system. Levin would, among other things, add a filibuster to the House.

So this is more than just a conversation about how to fix the Republican Party. It’s a conversation about how to fix American politics — how to recenter it on policy that changes people’s lives, rather than symbolic clashes that merely harden our hearts.

Mentioned in this episode:

Big Tech, Big Government: The Challenges of Regulating Internet Platforms,” National Affairs, Winter 2021

The Working Class Republican: Ronald Reagan and the Return of Blue-Collar Conservatism by Henry Olsen

"Democrats, Here’s How to Lose in 2022. And Deserve It." by Ezra Klein

Recommendations: 

"On Empire, Liberty, and Reform: Speeches and Letters" by Edmund Burke

"Reflections On The Revolution In France" by Edmund Burke

"The American Crisis" by Thomas Paine

"The Rights of Man" by Thomas Paine

"Conservatism: An Invitation to the Great Tradition" by Roger Scruton

"Freedom From the Market: America’s Fight to Liberate Itself from the Grip of the Invisible Hand" by Mike Konczal

"Social Democratic Capitalism" by Lane Kenworthy

"The Upswing" by Robert Putnam with Shaylyn Romney Garrett

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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

Feb 05, 2021
To Understand This Era, You Need to Think in Systems
01:09:33

As my colleague Ben Smith wrote in an August profile, sociologist Zeynep Tufekci has “made a habit of being right on the big things.” She saw the threat of the coronavirus early and clearly. She saw that the public health community was ignoring the evidence on masking, and raised the alarm persuasively enough that she tipped the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention toward new, lifesaving guidance. Before Tufekci was being prescient about the coronavirus, she was being prescient about disinformation online, about the way social media was changing political organizing, about what election forecasting models could actually tell us, about the rising threat of authoritarianism in America.

Tufekci attributes this track record to “systems thinking,” which she believes holds the key to forming a more accurate understanding of everything from pandemics to social media to the Republican Party. So I asked Tufekci to come on a podcast for a conversation about how she thinks, and what the rest of us can learn from it. 

In answering those questions, we discuss why public health experts were slow to change guidance on disruptive measures like masking and travel bans, the logic of authoritarian regimes, why Asian countries so decisively outperformed Western Europe and America in containing coronavirus, why Tufekci thinks media coverage of the vaccines is too pessimistic, the crisis of American democracy, whether a more competent demagogue will succeed Donald Trump, and much more.

Mentioned in this episode: 

 “How Zeynep Tufekci Keeps Getting the Big Things Right” by Ben Smith

“Why Telling People They Don’t Need Masks Backfired” by Zeynep Tufekci

“Can We Do Twice as Many Vaccinations as We Thought?” by Zeynep Tufekci and Michael Mina

“America’s Next Authoritarian Will Be Much More Competent” by Zeynep Tufekci

Recommendations: 

"Groundhog Day" (movie)

"Normal Accidents" by Charles Perrow

"The Dispossessed" by Ursula K. Le Guin

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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

Feb 02, 2021
What’s Happening to Our Economy Is Like a Natural Disaster
01:08:35

The Biden administration’s first legislative priority is a $1.9 trillion economic rescue package. It’s the kind of mega-package where the individual policies contained inside it — a $15 minimum wage, $1,400 checks, a huge child tax credit expansion, a $50 billion virus testing infrastructure — would be big deals on their own. But together, this would be one of the most consequential packages ever passed.

So there’s a lot to talk about here. And who better to talk about it with than my now-colleague Paul Krugman? We dig into the details of the plan and then spiral off into some other topics I wanted to run by the nearest Nobel laureate: the major rethinking of debt and deficits among left-of-center economists, the differences between Keynesians and Modern Monetary Theorists, how Krugman made a bunch of money off Bitcoin (it’s not how you’d think!), why progressives need a better theory of technological change, Krugman’s favorite indie bands of the mid-2000s, and more.

Mentioned in this episode: 

“Notes on the Coronacoma (Wonkish)” by Paul Krugman

“Why Markets Boomed in a Year of Human Misery” by Neil Irwin and Weiyi Cai

“Who’s Afraid of Budget Deficits?” By Jason Furman and Lawrence Summers

“Public Debt: Fiscal and Welfare Costs in a Time of Low Interest Rates” by Olivier Blanchard

“America’s anti-democratic Senate, in one number” by Ian Millhiser

Book Recommendations: 

“Laundry Files” series by Charlie Stross

“Merchant Princes” series by Charlie Stross

“The Price of Peace” by Zachary Carter

Band Recommendations: 

The Be Good Tanyas

Larkin Poe

Reina del Cid

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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

Jan 29, 2021
The Man With the Plan to Beat the Pandemic
01:20:13

I’ve never covered a moment that simultaneously merits so much despair and so much hope. It’s dizzying. The Biden administration takes office with over 25 million Covid-19 cases nationwide, over 420,000 Americans dead, and new, highly contagious variants of the virus stalking our future. It’s as grim a situation as I’ve seen.

But for the first time, we can do more than hide. We can immunize. Getting a population of 330 million to herd immunity is a hellishly difficult undertaking in the best of circumstances, and these are not the best of circumstances. Still, speed matters: Getting to herd immunity a few months faster could save hundreds of thousands of lives.

Dr. Vivek Murthy was surgeon general under Barack Obama, and is Joe Biden’s nominee for the same position. He’s also co-chair of Biden’s coronavirus task force.

In this episode, Murthy walks me through the Biden administration’s plan to beat the coronavirus. We discuss America’s botched vaccine rollout efforts, what the choke points are now, whether the Oxford-AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines will be approved, why the U.S. government should be shipping out free masks, what’s blocking 24/7 vaccination sites, the F.D.A.’s overly conservative approach to at-home testing kits, what we can and can’t do after getting the vaccine, the vaccine failures in blue states, how to change the minds of the nearly third of Americans who are vaccine-skeptical, why persuasion is as much about listening as talking, the new coronavirus variants, and much more.

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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

Jan 26, 2021
Coming Soon: The Ezra Klein Show
00:02:13

Every Tuesday and Friday, Ezra Klein invites you into a conversation about 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?

Subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts.

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 ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

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

Jan 13, 2021