300 episodes

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.

The Ezra Klein Show Vox

    • Philosophy
    • 4.6, 44 Ratings

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.

    Toby Ord on existential risk, Donald Trump, and thinking in probabilities

    Toby Ord on existential risk, Donald Trump, and thinking in probabilities

    Oxford philosopher Toby Ord spent the early part of his career spearheading the effective altruism movement, founding Giving What We Can, and focusing his attention primarily on issue areas like global public health and extreme poverty. Ord’s new book The Precipice is about something entirely different: the biggest existential risks to the future of humanity. In it, he predicts that humanity has approximately a 1 in 6 chance of going completely extinct by the end of the 21st century.
    Wait! Stay with me!
    The coronavirus pandemic is a reminder that tail risk is real. We always knew a zoological respiratory virus could become a global pandemic. But, collectively, we didn’t want to think about it, and so we didn’t. The result is the reality we live in now. 
    But for all the current moment’s horror, there are worse risks than coronavirus out there. One silver lining of the current crisis might be that it gets us to take them seriously, and avert them before they become unstoppable. That’s what Ord’s book is about, and it is, in a strange way, a comfort. 
    This, then, is a conversation about the risks that threaten humanity’s future, and what we can do about them. It’s a conversation about thinking in probabilities, about the ethics of taking future human lives seriously, about how we weigh the risks we don’t yet understand. And it’s a conversation, too, about something I’ve been dwelling on watching President Trump choose to ratchet up tensions with China amidst a pandemic: Is Trump himself an existential risk, or at least an existential risk factor?
    Book recommendations:
    Reasons and Persons by Derek Parfit
    Doing Good Better by William MacAskill
    Maps of Time by David Christian and William H. McNeill
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 1 hr 26 min
    Elizabeth Warren has a plan for this, too

    Elizabeth Warren has a plan for this, too

    In January, Sen. Elizabeth Warren was the first presidential candidate to release a plan for combatting coronavirus. In March, she released a second plan. Days later, with the scale of economic damage increasing, she released a third. Warren’s proposals track the spread of the virus: from a problem happening elsewhere and demanding a surge in global health resources to a pandemic happening here, demanding not just a public health response, but an all-out effort to save the US economy.
    Warren’s penchant for planning stands in particular stark contrast to this administration, which still has not released a clear coronavirus plan. There is no document you can download, no web site you can visit, that details our national strategy to slow the disease and rebuild the economy. 
    So I asked Warren to return to the show to explain what the plan should be, given the cold reality we face. We discussed what, specifically, the federal government should do; the roots of the testing debacle; her idea for mobilizing the economy around building affordable housing; why she thinks that this is exactly the right time to cancel student loan debt; why America spends so much money preparing for war and so little defending itself against pandemics and climate change; whether she thinks the Democratic primary focused on the wrong issues; and how this crisis is making a grim mockery of Ronald Reagan’s old saw about “the scariest words in the English language.”

    Confused about coronavirus? Here’s a list of the articles, papers, and podcasts we’ve found most useful.
    New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere)
    Credits:
    Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 53 min
    What social solidarity demands of us in a pandemic

    What social solidarity demands of us in a pandemic

    There is no doubt that social distancing is the best way to slow the spread of the coronavirus. But the efficacy of social distancing (or really any other public health measure) relies on something much deeper and harder to measure: social solidarity.
     “Solidarity,” writes Eric Klinenberg, “motivates us to promote public health, not just our own personal security. It keeps us from hoarding medicine, toughing out a cold in the workplace or sending a sick child to school. It compels us to let a ship of stranded people dock in our safe harbors, to knock on our older neighbor’s door.”
    Klinenberg, a sociologist by trade, is the director of the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University. His first book, Heat Wave, found that social connection was, at times, literally the difference between life and death during Chicago's 1995 heat wave. Since then, he’s spent his career studying trends in American social life, from the rise of adults living alone to the importance of “social infrastructure” in holding together our civic bonds.
     This conversation is about what happens when a country mired in a mythos of individualism collides with a pandemic that demands social solidarity and collective sacrifice. It’s about preventing an epidemic of loneliness and social isolation from overwhelming the most vulnerable among us. We discuss the underlying social trends that predated coronavirus, what kind of leadership it takes to actually bring people together, the irony of asking young people and essential workers to sacrifice for the rest of us, whether there’s an opportunity to build a different kind of society in the aftermath of Covid-19, and much more.

    References 
    Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone by Eric Klinenberg 
    Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life by Eric Klinenberg 
    “We Need Social Solidarity, Not Just Social Distancing” by Eric Klinenberg
    “Marriage has become a trophy” by Andrew Cherlin 

    Book recommendations: 
    Infections and Inequalities by Paul Farmer 
    Strangers in Their Own Land by Arlie Hochschild 
    A Paradise Built in Hell by Rebecca Solnit 
    The Division of Labor in Society by Emile Dukheim 

    Confused about coronavirus? Here’s a list of the articles, papers, and podcasts we’ve found most useful.
    New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere)
    Credits:
    Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 1 hr 7 min
    Coronavirus has pushed US-China relations to their worst point since Mao

    Coronavirus has pushed US-China relations to their worst point since Mao

    The COVID-19 pandemic is a grim reminder that the worst really can happen. Tail risk is real risk. Political leaders fumble, miscalculate, and bluster into avoidable disaster. And even as we try to deal with this catastrophe, the seeds of another are sprouting.
    The US-China relationship will define geopolitics in the 21st century. If we collapse into rivalry, conflict, and politically opportunistic nationalism, the results could be hellish. And we are, right now, collapsing into rivalry, conflict, and politically opportunistic nationalism. 
    The Trump administration, and key congressional Republicans, are calling COVID-19 “the Chinese virus,” and trying to gin up tensions to distract from their domestic failures. Chinese government officials, beset by their own domestic problems, are claiming the US military brought the virus to China. The US-China relationship was in a bad way six months ago, but this is a new level of threat.
    Evan Osnos covers the US-China relationship for the New Yorker, and is author of the National Book Award winner, The Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth and Faith in the New China. In this conversation, we discuss the past, present and future of the US-China relationship. What are the chances of armed conflict? What might deescalation look like? And we know what the US wants — what, in truth, does China want?

    Book recommendations:
    Wish Lanterns: Young Lives in New China by Alec Ash
    The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom by John Pomfret

    Confused about coronavirus? Here’s a list of the articles, papers, and podcasts we’ve found most useful.
    New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere)
    Credits:
    Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 1 hr 1 min
    Is the cure worse than the disease?

    Is the cure worse than the disease?

    "We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself!"
    That was President Donald Trump, this week, explaining why he was thinking about lifting coronavirus guidelines earlier than public-health experts recommended. The "cure," in this case, is social distancing, and the mass economic stoppage it forces. The problem, of course, is COVID-19, and the millions of deaths it could cause.
    This is a debate that needs to be taken seriously. Slowing coronavirus will impose real costs, and immense suffering, on society. Are those costs worth it? This is the most important public policy question right now. And if the discussion isn't had well, then it will be had, as we're already seeing, poorly, and dangerously.
    I wanted to take up this question from two different angles. The first dimension is economic: Are we actually facing a choice between lives and economic growth? If we ceased social distancing, could we sustain a normal economy amidst a raging virus? Jason Furman, professor of the practice of economic policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School and President Obama's former chief economist, joins me for that discussion.
    But the economy isn't everything. What is a moral framework we can us when faced with this kind of question? So, in the second half of this show, I talk to Dr. Ruth Faden, the founder of the Berman Institute for Bioethics at Johns Hopkins.
    And then, at the end, I offer some thoughts on my own on the frightening moment we're living through, and the kind of political and social leadership it demands.
    Confused about coronavirus? Here’s a list of the articles, papers, and podcasts we’ve found most useful.
    New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere)
    Credits:
    Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 1 hr 7 min
    An economic crisis like we’ve never seen

    An economic crisis like we’ve never seen

    “What is happening,” writes Annie Lowrey, “is a shock to the American economy more sudden and severe than anyone alive has ever experienced.”  
    It’s also different from what anyone alive has ever experienced. For many of us, the Great Recession is the closest analogue — but it’s not analogous at all. There, the economy’s potential was unchanged, but financial markets were in crisis. Here, we are purposefully freezing economic activity in order to slow a public health crisis. Early data suggests the economic crisis is going to far exceed any single week or quarter of the financial crisis. Multiple economists have told me that the nearest analogy to what we’re going through is the economy during World War II.
    I have a secret advantage when trying to understand moments of economic upheaval. I’m married to Annie Lowrey. I can give you the bio — staff writer at the Atlantic, author of Give People Money (which is proving particularly prophetic and influential right now) — but suffice to say she’s one of the clearest and most brilliant economic thinkers I know. Her viral piece on the affordability crisis is crucial for understanding what the economy really looked like before Covid-19, and she’s been doing some of the best work on the way Covid-19 will worsen the economic problems we had and create a slew of new ones.
    But this isn’t just a conversation about crisis. It’s also a conversation about how to respond. I wouldn’t call it hopeful — we’re not there yet. But constructive.
    References:
    "The Great Affordability Crisis Breaking America" by Annie Lowrey
    If you enjoyed this episode, check out:
    "Fix recessions by giving people money," The Weeds
    Book recommendations:
    Severance by Ling Ma
    Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham
    Crashed by Adam Tooze
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 1 hr 25 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
44 Ratings

44 Ratings

_sim_simma____ ,

Listening from NZ

Great variety of topics and an excellent insight into the confusing snake pit of US politics

HanIAm11 ,

always thought provoking

this has been my fav podcast for ages now, enjoy having my mind extended by all the interesting ideas discussed

same clan as Ilhan ,

Ezra

The best one on one interview podcast

Top Podcasts In Philosophy

Listeners Also Subscribed To

More by Vox