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The Ezra Klein Show

Updated 10 days ago

Rank #90 in Society & Culture category

Education
News & Politics
Society & Culture
Philosophy
Read more

Ezra Klein brings you far-reaching conversations about hard problems, big ideas, illuminating theories, and cutting-edge research. Want to know how Stacey Abrams feels about identity politics? How Hasan Minhaj is reinventing political comedy? The plans behind Elizabeth Warren’s plans? How Michael Lewis reads minds? This is the podcast for you. Produced by Vox and the Vox Media Podcast Network.

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Ezra Klein brings you far-reaching conversations about hard problems, big ideas, illuminating theories, and cutting-edge research. Want to know how Stacey Abrams feels about identity politics? How Hasan Minhaj is reinventing political comedy? The plans behind Elizabeth Warren’s plans? How Michael Lewis reads minds? This is the podcast for you. Produced by Vox and the Vox Media Podcast Network.

iTunes Ratings

5457 Ratings
Average Ratings
4436
393
190
133
305

Thoughtful

By Buddy_McCue - Jul 31 2019
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Ezra Klein seems to put a lot of thought into these podcasts. I never miss an episode.

FAB

By aehkg - Jul 09 2019
Read more
Fair and balanced. Not in the Fox way, but actually fair and balanced.

iTunes Ratings

5457 Ratings
Average Ratings
4436
393
190
133
305

Thoughtful

By Buddy_McCue - Jul 31 2019
Read more
Ezra Klein seems to put a lot of thought into these podcasts. I never miss an episode.

FAB

By aehkg - Jul 09 2019
Read more
Fair and balanced. Not in the Fox way, but actually fair and balanced.
Cover image of The Ezra Klein Show

The Ezra Klein Show

Updated 10 days ago

Rank #90 in Society & Culture category

Read more

Ezra Klein brings you far-reaching conversations about hard problems, big ideas, illuminating theories, and cutting-edge research. Want to know how Stacey Abrams feels about identity politics? How Hasan Minhaj is reinventing political comedy? The plans behind Elizabeth Warren’s plans? How Michael Lewis reads minds? This is the podcast for you. Produced by Vox and the Vox Media Podcast Network.

Are bosses dictators? (With Elizabeth Anderson)

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Imagine a society whose rulers suppress free speech, free association, even bathroom breaks. Where the government owns the means of production. Where the leader is self-appointed or hand-selected by a group of wealthy oligarchs. Where exile or emigration can have severe, even life-threatening, consequences.

My guest today, University of Michigan Philosopher Elizabeth Anderson, writes that workplaces are “communist dictatorships in our midst.” Her book Private Government: How Employers Rule our Lives (and Why We Don’t Talk About It) draws an extended analogy between firms and tyrannical governments, each of which she believes hold extended, unaccountable power over people’s lives.

Anderson is one for the most influential philosophers alive today, and her aim isn’t just to be provocative. It’s to argue that the ideals of representation, rights, and legitimacy that we apply to public governments should extend to private governments, too. And beyond that, it is to pose a question about the lenses through which we peer out at the world: “Why do we not recognize such a pervasive part of our social landscape for what it is?”

I don’t agree with Anderson on every point, but she’s offering a gift: another framework for understanding the world in which we live. This is the kind of conversation that sticks with you, that leaves everything looking just a little bit different.

Book recommendations:

What is Populism? by Jan Werner-Muller

Communicating Moral Concern by Elise Springer

The Racial Contract by Charles Mills

Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
Aug 19 2019
1 hour 30 mins
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The Constitution is a progressive document

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“The Constitution must be adapted to the problems of each generation,” writes Erwin Chemerisnky, “we are not living in the world of 1787 and should not pretend that the choices for that time can guide ours today.”

Does that sentence read to you as obvious or offensive? Either way, it’s at the core of the constitutional debate between the left and the right — a debate the left all too often cedes to the right through disinterest.

Chemerinsky is trying to change that. He’s the dean of UC Berkeley’s School of Law, a decorated constitutional scholar and lawyer, and the author of We the People: A Progressive Reading of the Constitution for the Twenty-First Century. At the core of Chemerinsky’s vision is the idea that the Constitution must be interpreted through the lens of the preamble: a crucial statement of intent, and one that establishes the US Constitution as one of the most adaptive and glitteringly progressive founding documents in the world.

This is a conversation about both direct questions of constitutional interpretation and the meta-questions of constitutional debate in a polarized age. What, for instance, does it mean that so much turned on Mitch McConnell’s blockade against Merrick Garland? Is this just a legal debating club disguising the exercise of raw power? What should progressive constitutionalists make of proposals to expand the Supreme Court? What would be different today if Hillary Clinton had filled Scalia’s seat?

Book recommendations:

Simple Justice by Richard Kluger (1975)
American Constitutional Law by Larry Tribe
The Federalist Papers by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay
The Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn
The Chosen by Chaim Potok

Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
Aug 15 2019
1 hour 2 mins
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Matt Bruenig’s case for single-payer health care

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The Democratic primary has been unexpectedly dominated by a single question: Will you abolish private health insurance?
Wrapped in that question are dozens more. Why, if private health insurance is such a mess, do polls show most Americans want to keep it? What lessons should we take from the failure of past efforts at health reform? What does it mean to say “if you like your health insurance plan, you can keep it?”

Matt Bruenig, the founder of the People’s Policy Project, is firmly in support of true single-payer. No compromise, no chaser. He’s frustrated by those, like me, who try to work around the public’s resistance to disruptive change, who treat past failures and current polls as predictions about the future. And, in turn, I’m often frustrated by Matt’s tendency, mirrored by many on the left, to treat people with similar goals but different theories of reform as villains and shills.

In this podcast, Matt and I hash it out. The questions here are deep ones. When are political constraints real, and when are they invented by the people asserting their existence? If you already believe the political system is broken and corrupt, how can you entrust it to take over American health care? Can you cleave policy from politics? What would the ideal health care system look like, and why?

Book recommendations:
A Theory of Justice  by John Rawls
What Is Property?  by P. J. Proudhon
The Progressive Assault on Laissez Fair   by Barbara H. Fried

Ezra’s recommended reading:
One Nation, Uninsured  by Jill Quadagno
Remedy and Reaction by Paul Starr
It's the Institutions, Stupid! by Sven Steinmo, Jon Watts

Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
Aug 12 2019
2 hours 4 mins
Play

Can Raj Chetty save the American dream?

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I don’t ordinarily find myself scrambling to write down article ideas during these conversations, but almost everything Raj Chetty says is worth a feature unto itself. For instance:

- Great Kindergarten teachers generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in future earnings for their students
- Solving poverty would increase life expectancy by more — far more — than curing cancer
- Public investment focused on children often pays for itself
- The American dream is more alive in Canada than in America
- Maps of American slavery look eerily like maps of American social mobility — but not for the reason you’d think

Chetty is a Harvard economist who has been called “the most influential economist alive today.” He’s considered by his peers to be a shoo-in for the Nobel prize. He specializes in bringing massive amounts of data to bear on the question of social mobility: which communities have it, how they got it, and what we can learn from them.

What Chetty says in this conversation could power a decade of American social policy. It probably should.

References:
Atlantic profile
Vox profile

Books:
Scarcity:The New Science of Having Less and How It Defines Our Lives by Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matt Desmond
How to Catch a Heffalump

Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
Aug 08 2019
1 hour 22 mins
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Astra Taylor will change how you think about democracy

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Astra Taylor’s new book has the best title I’ve seen in a long time: Democracy May Not Exist, But We’ll Miss It When It’s Gone.

I talk a lot about democracy on this show, but not in the way Taylor talks about it. The democracy I discuss is bounded by the assumptions of American politics. This, however, is not a conversation about the filibuster, the Senate, or the Electoral College — it is far more diverse and far more radical.

Taylor and I cover a lot of ground in this interview. We discuss how what it would mean to extend democracy to our job and schools, whether animals, future humans, or even nature itself can have political rights, how democracy thinks about noncitizens and children, and what would happen if we selected congress by lottery.

Something I appreciate about Taylor’s work is it’s alive to paradoxes, ambiguities, and hard questions that don’t offer easy answers. This conversation is no different.

References:
The link between support for animal rights and human rights
Interview with Will Wilkinson

Book Recommendations:
How democratic is the American Constitution? By Robert Dahl 
Abolition Democracy by Angela Davis
The Two Faces of American Freedom by Aziz Rana 

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Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com

Aug 05 2019
1 hour 21 mins
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Introducing Land of the Giants

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Ezra sits down with Jason Del Rey, host of Land of the Giants, a new podcast from Recode and the Vox Media Podcast Network. Land of the Giants is about the major technology companies that have reshaped our world and explores the ways that they've changed our lives – for better and for worse. The first season is titled The Rise of Amazon. Enjoy this special conversation between Ezra and Jason, followed by a preview of the first episode, Why You’ll Never Quit Amazon Prime. Subscribe to Land of the Giants for free in your favorite podcast app to hear the rest of the episode and to get new episodes automatically.
Aug 02 2019
27 mins
Play

Is big tech addictive? Nir Eyal and I debate.

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“How do successful companies create products people can’t put down?”

That’s the opening line of the description for Nir Eyal’s bestselling 2014 book Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products. Hooked became a staple in Silicon Valley circles — it was even recommended to me when I started Vox — and Eyal became a celebrity.

Today, Silicon Valley’s skill at building habit-forming products is looked on more skeptically, to say the least. So I was interested to see him releasing a second book that seemed a hard reversal: Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life.

But Eyal doesn’t think big tech is addictive, and he sees the rhetoric of people who do — like me — as “ridiculous.” He believes the answer to digital distraction lies in individuals learning to exercise forethought and discipline, not demonizing companies that make products people love.

Eyal and I disagree quite a bit in this conversation. But it’s a disagreement worth having. Life is the sum total of what we pay attention to. Who is in control of that attention, and how we can wrest it back, is a central question of our age.

Book Recommendations:

Lost Connections: Why You’re Depressed and How to Find Hope by Johann Hari
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
Aug 01 2019
1 hour 19 mins
Play

Generation Climate Change

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This is one of those episodes I want to put the hard sell on. It’s one of the most important conversations I’ve had on the show. The fact that it left me feeling better about the world rather than worse — that was shocking.

Varshini Prakash is co-founder and executive director of the Sunrise Movement. Sunrise is part of a new generation of youth-led climate-change movements that emerged out of the failure of the global political system to address the climate crisis. They’re the ones who made the Green New Deal a litmus test for 2020. They’re the reason there might be a climate debate. They’re the reason candidates’ climate plans have gotten so much more ambitious.

Behind these movements is the experience of coming of age in the era of climate crisis and the new approach to organizing birthed by that trauma. We also talk about Sunrise’s theory of organizing, why it’s a mistake to say you’re saving the planet when you’re saving humanity, Sunrise’s motto “no permanent friends, no permanent enemies,” the joys of organizing in the face of terrible odds, and, unexpectedly, the Tao Te Ching.
This is a conversation about climate change and about political organizing, but it’s also about finding agency amid despair. Don’t miss it.

Book recommendations:
Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? by Martin Luther King Jr.
This Is an Uprising  by Mark Engler and Paul Engler
Tao Te Ching by Laozi 

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The Ezra Klein Show has been nominated for best Society- culture podcast in this year’s People’s Choice Podcast Awards! Cast your vote for The Ezra Klein Show at https://www.podcastawards.com/app/signup before July 31st. One vote per category.
Please send guest suggestions for our upcoming series on climate change to ezrakleinshow@vox.com

Jul 29 2019
1 hour 37 mins
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Is the media amplifying Trump’s racism? (with Whitney Phillips)

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Some podcasts I do are easy. There’s a problem and, hey look, here’s a great answer! Some are hard. There’s a problem and, well, there may not be a good answer. This is one of those.

When Donald Trump tweeted that four new Democratic members of Congress (commonly known as ‘the Squad’) should “go back” to the “corrupt” countries he said they are from, the media went into frenzy. When he said he didn’t worry if the comment was racist, because “many people agree with me,” it got worse. Trump’s racism — and his justification of it — dominated the news.

Under the “sunlight disinfects” model of media, that’s a good thing. But, as communications scholar Whitney Phillips argues, sunlight also does something else: it makes things grow. What if, by letting Trump focus the national conversation on his most vile comments at will, we’re nourishing the very ideas we’re trying to bleach?

Behind this conversation lurks some of the hardest questions in media. What makes something newsworthy? When do we let Trump set the agenda, and when don’t we? And is the theory under which we give the worst comments the most coverage true, or is it making us part of the problem?

Book Recommendations:
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Kimmerer
Klu Klux by Elaine Parsons
White Racial Framing by Joe Feagin

Check out Whitney Phillips’ previous appearance on the show

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The Ezra Klein Show has been nominated for best Society- culture podcast in this year’s People’s Choice Podcast Awards! Cast your vote for The Ezra Klein Show at https://www.podcastawards.com/app/signup before July 31st. One vote per category.
Please send guest suggestions for our upcoming series on climate change to ezrakleinshow@vox.com

Jul 25 2019
1 hour 27 mins
Play

Rutger Bregman’s utopias, and mine

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Universal basic income. A 15-hour work week. Open borders.

These ideas may strike you as crazy, fantastical, maybe even utopian... but that’s exactly the point.

My guest today is Dutch historian Rutger Bregman, whose book Utopia for Realists is not only about utopian visions but about the importance of utopian thinking. Imagining utopia, he writes, “isn’t an attempt to predict the future. It’s an attempt to unlock the future. To fling open the windows of our minds.”

He’s right. And so this isn’t just a conversation about his utopia, or mine. It’s a conversation about how to think like a utopian, and why doing so matter most when the days feel particularly dystopic.

Citations:
The Lost Boys by Gina Perry
"Socially Useless Jobs" by Robert Dur and Max van Lent
"Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren" by John Maynard Keynes
"I was a fast-food worker. Let me tell you about burnout." by Emily Guendelsberger

Book Recommendations:

Bullshit Jobs and Debt by David Graeber
A Paradise Built in Hell by Rebecca Solnit
The Entrepreneurial State by Mariana Mazzucato

*********
The Ezra Klein Show has been nominated for best Society- culture podcast in this year’s People’s Choice Podcast Awards! Cast your vote for The Ezra Klein Show at https://www.podcastawards.com/app/signup before July 31st. One vote per category.

Please send guest suggestions for our upcoming series on climate change to ezrakleinshow@vox.com

Jul 22 2019
1 hour 32 mins
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