The Ezra Klein Show

The Ezra Klein Show

Vox
May 25, 2020 1 hr 14 min

Robert Frank's radical idea

I’ve known Cornell economist Robert Frank for almost 15 years. And for as long as I’ve known him, Frank has been trying to convince his fellow economists of an idea that’s simple to state, but radical in its implications: social pressure is a fundamental economic force. We are not rational, individual economic agents; we are social animals trying to mimic, and best each other — oftentimes without even knowing it. The failure of the economics profession to see this is, in Frank's view, a crime against public policy. Frank’s new book, Under the Influence: Putting Peer Pressure to Work, came out shortly before coronavirus reshaped daily life. But it is, for that very reason, extraordinarily timed: it’s an effort to show that the economics of social contagion could reshape the world, solving our hardest problems — from climate change to income inequality — and offering new ways to think about the power we have as individuals. Absent coronavirus, its argument might’ve seemed abstract, optimistic. But now we've seen it happen. We are watching a version of Frank’s thesis play out right now, in real time. In the wake of coronavirus, social pressure has driven perhaps the single fastest behavioral transformation in human history. It is the example and pressure we face from each other that has made social distancing so effective, so fast. And if social pressure can do that — what else can it do? What Frank offers here is a theory of how public policy can shape peer pressure for good and for bad. Some of the ideas in this podcast — "expenditure cascades," "positional goods" — are hard to unsee once you see them. Others — like his proposal to rebuild the tax system around a progressive consumption tax meant to curb the intra-wealthy competitions that drive inequality — would radically reshape vast swaths of the tax code. Book recommendations: The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells Micromotives and Macrobehavior by Thomas Schelling "How to solve climate change and make life more awesome" with Saul Griffith (podcast) Want to contact the show? Reach out at [email protected] Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas. 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
May 21, 2020 1 hr 12 min

Why “essential” workers are treated as disposable

Grocery store clerks. Fast food cashiers. Hospice care workers. Bus drivers. Farm workers. Along with doctors and nurses, these are the people who are putting their own lives at risk to keep our society functioning day in and out amid the worst crisis of our lifetimes. We call them heroes, we label them “essential,” and we clap for their brave efforts -- even though none of them signed up for this monumental task, and many of them lack basic healthcare, paid sick leave, a living wage, cultural respect and dignified working conditions. How did things get this way? Why did we end up with an economy that treats our most essential workers as disposable? And what does an alternative future of work look like? Mary Kay Henry is the president of the Service Employees International Union, a 2 million person organization that represents a huge segment of America’s essential workers. If you ask a traditional economist why essential workers are paid so little, they’ll talk about marginal productivity and returns to education; ask Kay Henry and she’ll talk about something very different: power. Book recommendations: White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo Lead from the Outside by Stacey Abrams The Dowry by Lorraine Paolucci Macchello Want to contact the show? Reach out at [email protected] Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas. 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
May 18, 2020 1 hr 24 min

"The world’s scariest economist” on coronavirus, innovation, and purpose

The Times of London called Mariana Mazzucato “the world’s scariest economist.” Quartz describes her as “on a mission to save capitalism from itself.” Wired says she has “a plan to fix capitalism,” and warns that “it’s time we all listened. ”Mazuccato is an economist at University College London and Founder and Director of UCL's Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose. She’s the author of The Entrepreneurial State and The Value of Everything — two books that, together, critique some of the most fundamental economic assumptions of our time, and try and chart a different path forward. This is a moment that demands critique. The workers who are being called “essential” now were treated as disposable before — paid low wages, offered little respect. The difference between states with innovative, capable public sectors and states where government agencies have been dismissed and defunded is on terrible display. The debates Mazzucato has been trying to open for years are now unavoidable. So let’s have them. Book recommendations: Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar The Deficit Myth by Stephanie Kelton War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy Want to contact the show? Reach out at [email protected] Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas. 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
May 14, 2020 1 hr 22 min

A mind-bending conversation about quantum mechanics and parallel worlds

While you read these words, the universe is splitting into countless copies. New realities, all with a version of you, exactly like you are now, but journeying off into their own branch of the multiverse. Maybe. Sean Carroll is a theoretical physicist at CalTech, the host of the Mindscape podcast, and author of, among other books, Something Deeply Hidden, which blew my mind a bit. He is also a believer in, and defender of, the “many-worlds” interpretation of quantum mechanics, which has to be one of the five most fun things in the world to think about. Science! This is a conversation where I get to do something I’ve always wanted to do: Ask a real quantum physicist all of my questions about quantum physics. And then ask again, when I don’t understand the answer, which I usually don’t. And then again, when I sort of understand, but there’s still a part tripping me up. Carroll is wonderfully patient and beautifully clear, and the result is a conversation I haven’t stopped telling friends about since I had it. This world sucks right now. Let’s think about some other ones. References: The Biggest Ideas in the Universe! YouTube series Book recommendations: How Physics Makes Us Free by J. T. Ismael How the Universe Got Its Spots by Janna Levin The Calculus Diaries by Jennifer Ouellette Want to contact the show? Reach out at [email protected] Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas. 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
May 11, 2020 1 hr 22 min

Why the coronavirus is so deadly for black America

In Michigan, African Americans represent 14 percent of the population, 33 percent of infections, and 40 percent of deaths. In Mississippi they represent 38 percent of the population, 56 percent of infections, and 66 percent of deaths. In Georgia they represent 16 percent of the population, 31 percent of infections, and just over 50 percent of deaths. The list goes on and on: Across the board, African Americans are more likely to be infected by Covid-19 and far more likely to die from it. This doesn’t reflect a property of the virus. It reflects a property of our society. Understanding why the coronavirus is brutalizing black America means understanding the health inequalities that predate it. For the last 25 years, David R. Williams, a professor of public health and chair of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, has been studying those inequalities. He was named one of the top 10 most-cited social scientists in the world from 1995 to 2005, and Reuters ranked him as one of the “World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds” in 2014. At the center of Williams’s work is an attempt to grapple with some of the most difficult and sensitive questions in public: Why do black Americans have higher rates of chronic illness, disease, and mortality than white Americans? Why do those disparities remain even when you control for variables like income and education? Consider this: The life expectancy gap between a white high school dropout and a black high school dropout? 3½ years. Between a white college graduate and a black college graduate? 4.2 years. In this conversation, Williams doesn’t just give the clearest account I’ve heard of the coronavirus’s unequal toll. He also gives the clearest account of how America’s institutional and social structures have led to the most profound and consequential inequality of all. References: "Are Ghettos Good or Bad" by David Cutler and Edward Glaeser David Williams's Ted Talk on racism and health Book recommendations: American Apartheid by Douglas S. Massey and Nancy A. Denton The Highest Stage of White Supremacy by John Whitson Cell The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates Want to contact the show? Reach out at [email protected] Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas. 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
May 07, 2020 1 hr 8 min

Jenny Odell on nature, art, and burnout in quarantine

One of my favorite episodes of this show was my conversation with Jenny Odell, just under a year ago. Odell, a visual artist, writer, and Stanford lecturer, had just released her book How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy and we had a fascinating conversation about the importance of maintenance work, the problem with ceaseless productivity, the forces vying for our attention, the comforts of nature, and so much more. A lot has changed since then. Odell’s book became a sensation: it captured a cultural moment, made it onto Barack Obama’s favorite books of 2019 list and became, for many, a touchstone. And then, a global pandemic hit, radically altering the world in ways that made the core themes of Odell’s work more prescient, and more difficult. What happens when, instead of choosing to “do nothing,” doing nothing is forced upon you? What happens when all you have access to is nature? What happens when the work of maintenance becomes not just essential, but also dangerous? So I asked Odell back, for a very different conversation in a very different time. This isn’t a conversation, really, about fixing the world right now. It’s about living in it, and what that feels like. It’s about the role of art in this moment, why we undervalue the most important work in our society, how to have collective sympathy in a moment of fractured suffering, where to find beauty right now, the tensions of productivity, the melting of time, our reckoning with interdependence, and much more. And, at the end, Odell offers literally my favorite book recommendation ever on this show. And no, it’s not for my book. References: My previous conversation with Jenny Odell on the art of attention "The Myth of Self-Reliance" by Jenny Odell, The Paris Review "I tried to write an essay about productivity in quarantine. It took me a month to do it." by Constance Grady, Vox The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman Book recommendations: Give People Money by Annie Lowrey Lurking: How a Person Became a User by Joanne McNeil What It's Like to Be a Bird by David Allen Sibley Want to contact the show? Reach out at [email protected] Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas. The Ezra Klein Show is a finalist for a Webby! Make sure to vote at https://bit.ly/TEKS-webby 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
May 04, 2020 1 hr 26 min

An unusually honest conversation about wielding political power

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) is the co-chair of the 95-member House Progressive Caucus. That means, in the aftermath of Sen. Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign, she leads the most influential bloc of progressive power in the federal government. And one thing that separates Jayapal from other elected officials: She’s actually willing to talk about it. I know some of you skip over episodes with politicians because they’re interviews, not conversations. This one is a conversation, and it’s broadly about two things. First, how do we prevent a Great Depression? In particular, Jayapal has a bill — the Paycheck Guarantee Act — that would replace payroll up to incomes of $100,000 for businesses slammed by Covid-19. And if it sounds wishful to you, recalibrate: It’s been endorsed by Nobel prize-winning economists, a former Federal Reserve chair, and more. And there’s even Republican support for the broad idea. Second, how does the left wield power? Are Democrats getting rolled by Republicans on stimulus? Why doesn’t the House Progressive Caucus act more like the Freedom Caucus? What leverage do Democrats or progressives have, and why don’t they seem willing to use it in the way Republicans do? I wasn’t sure if Jayapal would actually answer my questions here — most politicians don’t — but she did, and the result is an unusually frank discussion about how the left does, and doesn’t, wield power in Congress. Book recommendations: The Book of Joy by Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama and Douglas Carlton Abrams The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen The Rumi Collection by Kabir Helminski Want to contact the show? Reach out at [email protected] Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas. The Ezra Klein Show is a finalist for a Webby! Make sure to vote at https://bit.ly/TEKS-webby 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
Apr 30, 2020 1 hr 36 min

What should the media learn from coronavirus?

The coronavirus is “a nightmare scenario” for media, wrote New York Times columnist Charlie Warzel. “It is stealthy, resilient and confounding to experts. It moves far faster than scientists can study it. What seems to be true today may be wrong tomorrow.” Warzel is right. We’ve talked a lot in recent years about fake news. But combatting information we know is false is a straightforward problem compared to covering a story where we don’t know what’s true, and where yesterday’s expert consensus becomes tomorrow’s derided falsehoods. In these cases, the normal tools of journalism begin to fail, and trust is easily lost. There’s been a lot of criticism of what the media missed in the run-up to coronavirus. Some of it has been unfair. But some of it demands attention, reflection, and change. There’s also a lot the media got right, and those successes need to be celebrated and learned from. The questions raised here are hard, and go to one of the trickiest issues in journalism: how does a profession that prides itself on reporting truth cover the world probabilistically? What do we do when we simply can't know what's true, and when some of what we think we know might become untrue? Warzel covers the way technology, information, and media interact with and change each other. He’s one of the people I turn to first when I’m churning over these questions, which is…not infrequent. And so what you’re going to hear in this podcast is a bit different than the normal fare: this is less an interview-with-an-expert, and more the kind of conversation that I — and others in the media — am having a lot of right now, and that I think we at least need to try and have in public. References: What went wrong with the media’s coronavirus coverage? by Peter Kafka, Recode What we pretend to know about the coronavirus could kill us, by Charlie Warzel, NYT Book recommendations: The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson Uncanny Valley by Anna Wiener If you enjoyed this episode, check out: Is the media amplifying Trump's racism? (with Whitney Phillips) Want to contact the show? Reach out at [email protected] Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas. The Ezra Klein Show is a finalist for a Webby! Make sure to vote at https://bit.ly/TEKS-webby 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
Apr 27, 2020 54 min

Bill Gates’s vision for life beyond coronavirus

In 2015, I asked Bill Gates a simple question: What are you most afraid of? He replied by telling me about the death chart of the 20th century. There’s the spike for World War I. The spike for World War II. But between them sat a spike as big as World War II. That, he said, was the Spanish Flu, which killed an estimated 65 million people. Gates’s greatest fear was a flu like that, ripping through our hyperglobalized world. Gates saw this coming, and he tried to warn the world. But the virus came, and we weren’t ready. Now, we all live in his nightmare. Gates has reoriented his foundation and committed hundreds of millions of dollars to the world’s fight against coronavirus. He recently published a long essay detailing what we know and don’t know about the disease, and what we need to invent and deploy to safely return to normalcy. I spoke with Gates to explore those questions, plus a few more. What does it feel like to be at the center of so many coronavirus conspiracy theories? What happens if we reopen too soon? Why are different cities seeing such different outcomes? Do rich and poor countries need different responses? What are the true chances of a vaccine in 18 months? But above all, I wanted to ask him the inverse of the question I asked him in 2015: what does he hope for? What is his vision for life after coronavirus? Want to contact the show? Reach out at [email protected] Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas. The Ezra Klein Show is a finalist for a Webby! Make sure to vote at https://bit.ly/TEKS-webby 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
Apr 23, 2020 1 hr 22 min

An epic conversation with Madeline Miller

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to introduce a conversation on this show as fun. But this one was. I needed it. Maybe you do, too. Madeline Miller has written some of my favorite novels of the past few years. Her books — the Orange Prize-winning The Song of Achilles and the New York Times No. 1 bestseller Circe, soon to be an HBO series — are brilliant reimaginings of some of the most revered texts in the Western canon. Miller’s also a trained classicist, a Shakespeare director, a Latin teacher, and a Greek mythology obsessive. This is a conversation about story and myth, about how our conceptions of godliness and human nature have changed, about the difficulty of translation and the resonance of superheroes. We debate whether Achilles is the worst and agree that anyone who loves language should read Sandra Boynton. Miller reveals how to train yourself to write a beautiful sentence and how to steel yourself to tell the stories you burn to see but that the canon has wiped out. And we discuss what character from the Greek canon most resembles President Donald Trump. This one was a tonic for me. Hopefully, it will be for you, too. Book recommendations: The Odyssey by Homer (translated by Emily Wilson) Mythos by Stephen Fry Heroes by Stephen Fry If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho by Anne Carson Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson Mythology by Edith Hamilton Want to contact the show? Reach out at [email protected] Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas. The Ezra Klein Show is a finalist for a Webby! Make sure to vote at https://bit.ly/TEKS-webby 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
The Ezra Klein Show
Genre
Philosophy
Episodes
333
Frequency
Ongoing podcast
Website
vox.com/ezra-klein-show-podcast
Creators
Ezra Klein (Host)
Ratings
(15)
Social
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