The Ezra Klein Show

The Ezra Klein Show

New York Times Opinion

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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

How the Texas Crisis Could Become Everyone's Crisis
FEB 26, 2021
How the Texas Crisis Could Become Everyone's Crisis
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. References “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 The Ezra Klein Show is hiring an Associate Producer! Apply to work with us by clicking here or by visiting www.nytco.com/careers. Thoughts? Email us at [email protected] New episodes every Tuesday and Friday. The Ezra Klein Show is produced by Roge Karma and Jeff Geld; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld.
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80 MIN
A Radical Proposal for True Democracy
FEB 23, 2021
A Radical Proposal for True Democracy
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 "The Ezra Klein Show" is hiring an Associate Producer! Apply to work with us by clicking here or by visiting www.nytco.com/careers. Thoughts? Email us at [email protected] New episodes every Tuesday and Friday. “The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Roge Karma and Jeff Geld; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld.
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44 MIN
George Saunders on Kindness, Capitalism and the Human Condition
FEB 19, 2021
George Saunders on Kindness, Capitalism and the Human Condition
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 "The Ezra Klein Show" is hiring an Associate Producer! Apply to work with us by clicking here or by visiting www.nytco.com/careers. Thoughts? Email us at [email protected] New episodes every Tuesday and Friday. “The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Roge Karma and Jeff Geld; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld.
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75 MIN
The Cost All Americans Pay for Racism
FEB 16, 2021
The Cost All Americans Pay for Racism
“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 Thoughts? Email us at [email protected] New episodes every Tuesday and Friday. “The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Roge Karma and Jeff Geld; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld.
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68 MIN
The Senate Is Making a Mockery of Itself
FEB 12, 2021
The Senate Is Making a Mockery of Itself
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 (Tune in to find out why) Thoughts? Email us at [email protected] New episodes every Tuesday and Friday. “The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Roge Karma and Jeff Geld; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld.
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69 MIN