The Ezra Klein Show
The Ezra Klein Show

The Ezra Klein Show

New York Times Opinion

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*** 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?

Recent Episodes

This Conversation About the 'Reading Mind' Is a Gift
NOV 22, 2022
This Conversation About the 'Reading Mind' Is a Gift
Every day, we consume a mind-boggling amount of information. We scan online news articles, sift through text messages and emails, scroll through our social-media feeds — and that’s usually before we even get out of bed in the morning. In 2009, a team of researchers found that the average American consumed about 34 gigabytes of information a day. Undoubtedly, that number would be even higher today. But what are we actually getting from this huge influx of information? How is it affecting our memories, our attention spans, our ability to think? What might this mean for today’s children, and future generations? And what does it take to read — and think — deeply in a world so flooded with constant input? Maryanne Wolf is a researcher and scholar at U.C.L.A.’s School of Education and Information Studies. Her books “Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain” and “Reader, Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World” explore the relationship between the process of reading and the neuroscience of the brain. And, in Wolfe’s view, our era of information overload represents a historical inflection point where our ability to read — truly, deeply read, not just scan or scroll — hangs in the balance. We discuss why reading is a fundamentally “unnatural” act, how scanning and scrolling differ from “deep reading,” why it’s not accurate to say that “reading” is just one thing, how our brains process information differently when we’re reading on a Kindle or a laptop as opposed to a physical book, how exposure to such an abundance of information is rewiring our brains and reshaping our society, how to rediscover the lost art of reading books deeply, what Wolf recommends to those of us who struggle against digital distractions, what parents can do to to protect their children’s attention, how Wolf’s theory of a “biliterate brain” may save our species’ ability to deeply process language and information and more. Mentioned: The Glass Bead Game (Magister Ludi) by Hermann Hesse How We Read Now by Naomi S. Baron The Shallows by Nicholas Carr Yiruma Book Recommendations: The Gilead Novels by Marilynne Robinson World and Town by Gish Jen Standing by Words by Wendell Berry Love’s Mind by John S. Dunne Middlemarch by George Eliot Thoughts? Email us at [email protected] (And if you’re reaching out to recommend a guest, please write “Guest Suggestion” in the subject line.) 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.
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69 MIN
Bill McKibben on the Power That Could Save the Planet
NOV 15, 2022
Bill McKibben on the Power That Could Save the Planet
The fight against climate change is at a crossroads. This past year, the climate movement in the United States achieved significant success. The recently passed Inflation Reduction Act represents the single largest investment in emissions reduction in U.S. history. More than a dozen states have taken some form of climate action in 2022 alone. Earlier this year, California — which, if it were a country, would have the fifth largest economy in the world — approved a record $54 billion in climate spending alongside sweeping new restrictions on fossil fuel development. These investments coincide with a wave of technological transformation: Over the past decade, the cost of solar energy has declined around 90 percent and that of onshore wind around 70 percent, making these energy sources economically competitive with fossil fuels for the first time. “The new numbers turn the economic logic we’re used to upside down,” writes the climate activist and journalist Bill McKibben. To him, the import of this moment is clear: For the first time, McKibben argues, humanity has at our fingertips the tools needed to end humanity’s millenniums-long dependence on burning things for energy — and to save our climate in the process. To those familiar with the climate movement, McKibben is a familiar name. His book “The End of Nature” has been compared to Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” in terms of its impact on the climate movement. He’s founded organizations like Third Act and 350.org, the latter of which is among the largest climate activist organizations in the world today. He was a key leader in the fight to block the Keystone XL pipeline. And he currently writes the influential newsletter “The Crucial Years.” Ask anyone in the climate movement today about their inspirations and McKibben will almost certainly top the list. But in McKibben’s telling, the climate movement’s successes in getting us to this point actually require it to change. A movement founded on blocking bad things from happening now needs to turn to building at intensified speed; a movement that has long fought to preserve the natural world now has to help usher in a wholesale transformation of the global landscape; a movement that has long been critical of capitalism and economic growth now has to align itself with those forces in order to achieve its ends. Those shifts will require new tactics, new animating ideas, new motivations and new priorities — with the future of the climate hanging in the balance. So I wanted to have McKibben on the show to talk about this dawning era of the climate fight we’re entering, and what changes the movement will have to make to meet this moment. Mentioned: “The Single Best Guide to Decarbonization I’ve Heard” by The Ezra Klein Show Book Recommendations: New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson Orwell’s Roses by Rebecca Solnit How It Went by Wendell Berry Thoughts? Email us at [email protected] (And if you’re reaching out to recommend a guest, please write “Guest Suggestion” in the subject line.) 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.
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84 MIN
I Don’t Quite Buy the DeSantis Narrative, and Other Midterm Thoughts
NOV 10, 2022
I Don’t Quite Buy the DeSantis Narrative, and Other Midterm Thoughts
The results of Tuesday’s midterm elections are still trickling in, but the broader story is clear: The red wave that many anticipated never materialized. Republicans gained 54 House seats against Bill Clinton in 1994 and 63 seats against Barack Obama in 2010. It doesn’t look as though the G.O.P. will secure anything close to that in 2022, and Democrats could retain their narrow control of the Senate — all against the backdrop of raging inflation and low approval ratings for President Biden. Why didn’t Democrats get wiped out? Why did so many Republicans underperform while others, like Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, won decisively? And what does it all imply for 2024? To talk through the midterm results and their implications, I am joined by my column’s editor, Aaron Retica. We discuss why this election ended up being so shockingly close; how Democrats’ performance could, paradoxically, make it harder for Biden to win in 2024; why the significance of DeSantis’s victory is probably being overhyped; why inflation didn’t seem to matter nearly as much to the elections’ outcomes as most analysts believed it would; how a possible DeSantis-Donald Trump fight in the 2024 Republican primaries could create electoral space for more traditional Republicans to break through; John Fetterman’s distinct working-class appeal in Pennsylvania, the moral calculus of Democrats’ decision to bolster extreme Republican candidates in the primaries; the uncertain future of American democracy and more. (Note: This episode was recorded on the afternoon of Wednesday, Nov. 9.) Mentioned: The Bitter End by John Sides, Chris Tausanovitch and Lynn Vavreck “Hillary Clinton Accepted Her Loss, but a Lot Has Changed Since 2016” by Lynn Vavreck “Republicans Have Made It Very Clear What They Want to Do if They Win Congress” by Ezra Klein "What It Means to Be Kind in a Cruel World" by The Ezra Klein Show Podcast Recommendations: The Prince: Searching for Xi Jinping (The Economist) Odd Lots (Bloomberg) Volts (David Roberts) EKS Episode Recommendations: “These Political Scientists Surveyed 500,000 Voters. Here Are Their Unnerving Conclusions.” by The Ezra Klein Show “A Powerful Theory of Why The Far Right is Thriving Across the Globe” by The Ezra Klein Show “Donald Trump Didn’t Hijack the G.O.P. He Understood It.” by The Ezra Klein Show Aaron's essay recommendation: "The Paranoid Style in American Politics" by Richard Hofstadter Thoughts? Email us at [email protected] (And if you’re reaching out to recommend a guest, please write “Guest Suggestion” in the subject line.) 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 Emefa Agawu, Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma. Fact-checking by Michelle Harris, Rollin Hu, Kristin Lin and Kate Sinclair. Original music by Isaac Jones. Mixing by Jeff Geld and Sonia Herrero. Audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski.
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68 MIN
George Saunders on the ‘Braindead Megaphone’ That Makes Our Politics So Awful
NOV 8, 2022
George Saunders on the ‘Braindead Megaphone’ That Makes Our Politics So Awful
George Saunders is regarded as one of our greatest living fiction writers. He won the Booker Prize in 2017 for his novel “Lincoln in the Bardo” and has published numerous short-story collections to wide acclaim, including his most recent book, “Liberation Day.” He also happens to be one of my favorite people to read and to talk to. Saunders is an incredibly prescient and sharp observer of American political culture. Way back in 2007, he argued that our media environment was transforming politics into a competition within which the loudest voices would command the most attention and set the agenda for everyone else. With the rise of social media — and the advent of the Trump era — that observation has been more than vindicated. So as we approach the midterm elections, I wanted to have Saunders back on the show to talk about how politics and media have changed, and how those changes are shaping the way we interact, communicate and even think. We discuss how Twitter takes advantage of — even warps — our “malleable” selves, how politicians like Marjorie Taylor Greene strategically manipulate our attentional environments, how Barack Obama leveraged our human desire to be seen as our best selves, whether discipline or gentleness is more effective in helping others grow, what options we have to resist anti-democratic tendencies in our politics, whether a post-scarcity future — with jobs for everyone — would leave us more or less satisfied, how the greatest evils can be committed by those trying to care for their loved ones, what attending Trump rallies taught Saunders about political violence and more. Mentioned: The Braindead Megaphone by George Saunders “Host” by David Foster Wallace “The Semplica-Girl Diaries” by George Saunders Bullshit Jobs by David Graeber “What It Means to Be Kind in a Cruel World” by The Ezra Klein Show “I Didn’t Want It to Be True, but the Medium Really Is the Message” by Ezra Klein Book Recommendations: The Storm Is Here by Luke Mogelson Sugar Street by Jonathan Dee Marlena by Julie Buntin Thoughts? Email us at [email protected] (And if you’re reaching out to recommend a guest, please write “Guest Suggestion” in the subject line.) 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 Emefa Agawu, Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma. Fact-checking by Michelle Harris and Mary Marge Locker. Original music by Isaac Jones. Mixing by Jeff Geld. Audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski.
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62 MIN
Inflation Does More Than Raise Prices. It Destroys Governments.
NOV 4, 2022
Inflation Does More Than Raise Prices. It Destroys Governments.
“One can usually pretend that there is a logic to the distribution of wealth — that behind a person’s prosperity lies some rational basis, whether it is that person’s hard work, skill and farsightedness or some ancestor’s,” writes J. Bradford DeLong. “Inflation — even moderate inflation — strips the mask.” DeLong is an economic historian at the University of California, Berkeley, a former deputy assistant secretary of the Treasury and the author of “Slouching Towards Utopia” — a new book about the wave of economic growth that transformed the world in the 20th century. In it, he argues, among other things, that inflation isn’t just economically damaging; it’s one of the most destabilizing, destructive forces in all of politics. Left unchecked, it has the power to swing elections, erode the foundations of core social institutions and usher in wholesale changes in political and economic regimes. [You can listen to this episode of “The Ezra Klein Show” on Apple, Spotify, Amazon Music, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.] That’s exactly what happened the last time inflation was this high. In DeLong’s telling, the inflation crisis of the 1970s was weaponized to discredit the reigning New Deal economic order and helped give rise to the small government, pro-market political turn of the 1980s — the consequences of which we are living with today. So I wanted to have DeLong on the show to walk me through that story and some of the questions it raises: Why is inflation is so uniquely politically destructive? What are the right — and wrong — lessons to take from the experience of the 1970s? What kinds of political transformations could today’s inflation could bring about? We also discuss why inflation spiraled out of control in the 1970s (and whether it could have been stopped sooner), the efficacy of price controls as a way of taming inflation, why DeLong believes it’s a mistake to take the 1970s comparisons too literally, how unchecked inflation can decimate social trust, how economic thinking became obsessed with “moochers” and “slackers” in the 1980s and ’90s, whether the 2007-08 financial crisis brought an end to the neoliberal era, what DeLong would say to his younger self serving in the early Clinton administration and more. Book Recommendations: The Rise and Fall of the Neoliberal Order by Gary Gestle Free Market by Jacob Soll Adam Smith’s America by Glory M. Liu Thoughts? Email us at [email protected] (And if you're reaching out to recommend a guest, please write “Guest Suggestion" in the subject line.) 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 Emefa Agawu, 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 and Sonia Hererro. Audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski.
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69 MIN