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The Ezra Klein Show

The Ezra Klein Show

Author: Vox

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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.
260 Episodes
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In The Meritocracy Trap, Daniel Markovits argues that meritocracy — a system set-up to expand opportunity, reduce inequality and end aristocracy — has become exactly what it was set up to combat: a mechanism for intergenerational wealth transfer that leaves everyone worse off in the process.Markovits isn’t only challenging a system; he is challenging the system that I (and probably most of you) have been part of for our entire lives. For better or worse, Meritocracy is the water we swim in. We implicitly accept its values, practices, arguments, and assumptions because they govern our everyday lives.This interview was a chance for me to exit the water. Maybe it will be for you as well.Book recommendations: The Rise of the Meritocracy by Michael Young The Race between Education and Technology by Claudia Goldin and Lawrence F. Katz"Technical Change, Inequality, and The Labor Market" (article) by Daron AcemogluWant to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.comNews comes at you fast. Join us at the end of your day to understand it. Subscribe to Today, Explained We are conducting an audience survey to better serve you. It takes no more than five minutes, and it really helps out the show. Please take our survey hereLearn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
“The truth is that as much democracy as this nation has today” writes Nikole Hannah-Jones “it has been borne on the backs of black resistance.”Hannah-Jones is an investigative journalist at the New York Times Magazine, the winner of MacArthur Genius Grant (among countless other awards), and, most recently, the creator of the New York Times’ 1619 project, which explores the ways slavery shaped America.As Hannah-Jones points out, no group in American history has more to teach us about what it means to live out the practice of democracy, in its most difficult and graceful form, than African-Americans. We also discuss:- The economics of slavery, and the role of the cotton gin- Why it took a civil war to end slavery in America, but not elsewhere- What it means to love a country that doesn’t love you back- Whether busing worked- Why Southern schools are the most racially integrated in the US- The long-term effects of school integration- Whether class-based policies can solve racial inequity- What America can learn from Cuba- Whether racism blocked social democracy in America- Whether any presidential candidates has a serious school integration plan- Why housing and education segregation are so rarely discussed by politicians- Why Hannah-Jones dislikes “gifted and talented” programs in schoolAnd much more.References: Hannah-Jones' opening essay of the 1619 project Hannah-Jones' essay on choosing a school for her daughter Book recommendations: Black Reconstruction in America 1860-1880 W.E.B. DuBois The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel WilkersonThe Race Beat by Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.comNews comes at you fast. Join us at the end of your day to understand it. Subscribe to Today, ExplainedWe are conducting an audience survey to better serve you. It takes no more than five minutes, and it really helps out the show. Please take our survey here: www.voxmedia.com/podsurvey. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
I’m not usually a fanboy on this podcast, but this episode is the exception.I love the web-comic XKCD. I’ve had prints of it hanging in my house for years. It’s nerdy and humane, curious and kind. And every so often, it’s explosively, crazily creative, in ways that leave me floored. Like the Hugo-award winning “Time,” a 3,099 frame animation that unspooled every hour for over four months. Or the book Thing Explainer, which used only the 1,000 most common words in the English language to explain some of the hardest ideas in the world.XKCD is the work of one person, Randall Munroe, and I’ve wanted to talk with him for years. Now he’s out with a new book, How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems, and I got my chance. The episode covers:- The simple places Munroe draws inspiration for his ideas- The fact that scientists still don’t know how lightning works or why ice is slippery- How pedantry kills creativity- Why aliens probably build suspension bridges like we do- The superpower of refusing to be embarrassed by what you don’t know- How to retain a sense of wonder as you age- Whether the water of Niagra Falls can fit through a straw- How to dig a hole- How a priest in 1590 intuited dozens of scientific discoveries centuries before they were officially discovered- And, most importantly, the best book recommendations I think I’ve ever heard on the showThis one was a pleasure.References: Jimmy Carter's Voyager letter Book recommendations: Natural and Moral History of the Indies by José de AcostaBecause Internet by Gretchen McCulloch Murmurs of Earth: The Voyager Interstellar Record by Carl Sagan (and others) Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.comNews comes at you fast. Join us at the end of your day to understand it. Subscribe to Today, ExplainedLearn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
I’m careful about inviting politicians onto this podcast. Too often, questions go unanswered, and frustrated emails flood my inbox. So I only bring on candidates now if there’s a conversation directly related to themes of this show.In this case, there is.There’s a quiet moral radicalism powering Julián Castro’s presidential campaign. Laced through his policy agenda are proposals to decriminalize the movements of undocumented immigrants, to involve the homeless in housing policy, to establish American obligations to those displaced by climate change, to protect animals from human cruelty.This is an agenda to expand the moral circle. To redefine who counts in the “we” of American politics.I asked Castro if this wasn’t all a step too far, if Democrats didn’t need to play it safer to eject Trump from office in 2020. This broader moral vision, he replied, “is not just trying to backfill the negative. It gives people a positive purpose that they can reach for. That’s what I’m trying to do.”This is a candidate interview worth hearing.Book recommendations: Influence by Robert Cialdini The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley Read the transcript of this interview here Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.comNews comes at you fast. Join us at the end of your day to understand it. Subscribe to Today, ExplainedLearn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Imagine, for a moment, what it’s like to be an animal rights activist. Tens of billions of animals are being tortured and slaughtered every year. It is, to you, a rolling horror. But to the people you love, the world you live in — it’s normal. You’re the weird one.So what do you do? How do you engage, politically and personally, when so few see what you see?Leah Garcés is the Executive President of Mercy for Animals and the author of Grilled: Turning Adversaries into Allies to Change the Chicken Industry ,which documents her journey to reduce the suffering of chickens by building coalitions with none other than well… industrial chicken farmers.I wanted Garcés on the show because her story is about more than animal suffering. It’s about the core question of politics: the choice we face, every day, between condemnation and compromise. Whether your issue is health care or climate or civil rights or abortion or taxes or foreign policy, you’re faced daily with people working for a world you find repellent. What do you do when they’re the majority and you’re the minority? How do you maintain your own morality when the system itself is sick? When do you draw bright lines, and when do you erase the lines you’ve spent your life drawing?This conversation gets uncomfortable at times — the realities of factory farming are not easy to face. But, trust me, you will want to stick with it. Garcés offers an extraordinary lesson in the daily practice of politics, one worth hearing even if it’s not ultimately your path.Book recommendations: Meat Racket by Christopher Leonard Big Chicken by Maryn McKenna Illumination in the Flatwoods: A Season with the Wild Turkey by Joe Hutto   Read the transcript of this interview hereIf you enjoyed this podcast, you may also like: The Green PillBruce Friedrich on how technology will reduce animal sufferingWant to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.comNews comes at you fast. Join us at the end of your day to understand it. Subscribe to Today, ExplainedLearn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Hello everyone. I'm Jane Coaston, senior politics reporter at Vox with a focus on conservatism (Ezra will be back from vacation next week). "Antiracism… is now a new and increasingly dominant religion” writes John McWhorter, “it is what we worship, as sincerely and fervently as many worship God and Jesus.”McWhorter is a Professor of English at Columbia University, a contributing editor to The Atlantic, and an outspoken critic of what he calls “third-wave antiracism.” He believes that our increasingly religious national discourse around race -- with its focus on “safe spaces,” “wokeness” and “white privilege” -- is not only wrongheaded, but even dangerous.But McWhorter isn't that easy to pin down. He acknowledges racism’s pernicious effects on communities of color, but believes that while we are busy calling out individual racism, we are ignoring the issues that most impact black lives: an endless War on Drugs, an unequal education system, and attacks on reproductive and voting rights.In this conversation, we explore what terms like “woke” and “diversity” actually mean, the types of issues that really do impact black communities, the legacy of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, the potential virtues of virtue signaling, why The Phantom Menace was (objectively) a terrible movie and much more. I hope y’all have as much fun with this conversation as I did.References: John's essay "The Virtue Signalers Won’t Change the World" Book recommendations: A Death in the Rainforest: How a Language and a Way of Life Came to an End in Papua New Guinea by Don Kulick American Pastoral by Philip Roth Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey CepFollow Jane on Twitter @cjane87Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.comNews comes at you fast. Join us at the end of your day to understand it. Subscribe to Today, ExplainedLearn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Hello, everybody! I'm Jane Coaston, senior politics reporter at Vox with a focus on conservatism.Today, I'm speaking with Conor Friedersdorf, a staff writer for the Atlantic, who has been navigating the fractious divides within the conservative movement since long before 2016.Friedersdorf is extremely hard to pin down. His intellectual hero is Friedrich Hayek and he believes the Supreme Court “ought to thwart the will of democratic and legislative majorities.” He’s also staunchly anti-war, an outspoken critic of police brutality, and has even occasionally praised Bernie Sanders.This is what makes Friedersdorf so interesting to talk to: He doesn't fall neatly along partisan lines. We discuss a lot here: the importance of police reform; the way the term “racism” is used and misused in American politics; the future of the GOP; and what it means to be politically homeless in Trump's America.References:"A question for conservatives: what if the left was right on race?" by Jane Coaston, Vox"What Ails the Right Isn’t (Just) Racism" by Conor Friedersdorf, the AtlanticBook recommendations:The Authoritarian Dynamic by Karen StennerKindly Inquisitors by Jonathan RauchThe Constitution of Liberty by Friedrich A. HayekWant to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.comNews comes at you fast. Join us at the end of your day to understand it. Subscribe toToday, ExplainedLearn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
I don’t usually begin interviews with the question “who the hell are you?” But, then again, not every guest is John Higgs.I fell into Higgs’s work by accident. An offhand recommendation of his book on the KLF, a British band that burnt a million pounds but couldn’t explain why they did it. What’s unusual is that I’ve not quite been able to climb back out of it. Higgs’s work is reality-warping. Once you put on his lenses, it’s hard to take them back off.At the center of Higgs’s strange, brilliant books — his heterodox history of the 20th century, his biography of Timothy Leary, his tour of “metamodernism” — is a single, urgent question: How do we understand the world around us even as advances in physics, psychology, art, pharmacology, and philosophy shatter our frames of reference?This conversation takes some wild turns, but trying to describe it would do it a disservice. Just trust me on this one. It’s good to mess with your reality every once in awhile.References: John Higgs’s conversation with Alan Moore What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry by John Markoff Book Recommendations: The Patterning Instinct by Jeremy Lent Cosmic Trigger I by Robert Anton WilsonFrom Hell by Alan Moore Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.comNews comes at you fast. Join us at the end of your day to understand it. Subscribe to Today, ExplainedLearn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
The introduction to Jia Tolentino’s Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion, hit me hard. In her investigation of how American politics and culture had collapsed into “an unbearable supernova of perpetually escalating conflict,” she became obsessed with five intersecting problems: “First, how the internet is built to distend our sense of identity; second, how it encourages us to overvalue our opinions; third, how it maximizes our sense of opposition; fourth, how it cheapens our understanding of solidarity; and, finally, how it destroys our sense of scale." Yeah, me too.What sets Tolentino’s work apart, though, is that it’s not about the internet — it’s about how people are living their real, everyday lives in the age of the internet. This is a conversation about what happens when technology combines with the most powerful forces of human psychology to transform the nature of human interaction itself. It’s about how we construct and express our core sense of self, and what that’s doing to who we really are. References: The art of attention (with Jenny Odell)Book Recommendations: On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx by Adrian Nicole LeBlancEvicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.comNews comes at you fast. Join us at the end of your day to understand it. Subscribe to Today, ExplainedLearn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor is an associate professor of African-American Studies at Princeton University and the author of multiple books, including most recently How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective, which traces the origins of the term “identity politics” back to its very first use.“Since 1977,” she writes, “that term has been used, abused, and reconfigured into something foreign to its creators.” Taylor’s intellectual history is driven by more than curiosity: it’s part of a larger vision that views racism and our contemporary economic system as inextricably linked.This is a conversation full of tough questions. What constitutes identity politics? When is it inclusive, and when is it exclusive? Is racism a function of capitalism or is it constant across economic systems? How did Barack Obama’s presidency lead to Donald Trump’s? What can stop future Democrats from running into the very same institutional strongholds that plagued Obama?Book recommendations: Black Reconstruction by W.E.B DuBois Selected poems of John Wieners Women, Race and Class by Angela Davis *******************************************************Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.comNews comes at you fast. Join us at the end of your day to understand it. Subscribe to Today, Explained: http://bit.ly/todayexplainedLearn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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Comments (48)

Mihir Kulkarni

Thank you for this amazing podcast! I adore Randall and it was awesome hearing him open up!

Sep 23rd
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James R

the Voyager interstellar.... dead link

Sep 16th
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Saramenti

1:03:38 interesting question.

Sep 12th
Reply

A J Hackett

agree, she just doesn't finish a sentence before chasing off after another thought

Aug 29th
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NLuc

I find it really hard to follow her. the train of thought isn't structured and she talks in long monologues without resolving the question. Ezra does this too, of course, but he is much better structuring his throughts. one point, she mentions the wealth of congress. well, rich people being congresspeople's is probably always going to happen, and should happen! we want good lawyers and effective people in these positions. that isn't to not criticize the institution, but claiming income/wealth is fundamental is wrong headed.

Aug 27th
Reply

Jacob

NLuc i think so

Aug 28th
Reply

Gene

I'm surprised there's no mention of community owned enterprises. If workers can elect their own representatives into the board of the company, the board essentially acts as a quasi parliament that can dictate or overthrow it's executive (CEO).

Aug 19th
Reply

Drew Misner

This is another great interview, but one thing is really lacking, even after listening to it twice. Chetty talks at length about neighborhood but does not define what it is! Are we talking about West Village vs East Village? Manhattan vs Staten Island? Buffalo vs NYC? Ezra mentions the Bay Area - is this considered a neighborhood? Given the talk of integration/diversity - are we talking about non urban vs urban? Chetty used IRS data according to Ezra, so maybe it's by zip code? Without knowing this it makes it extremely difficult to visualize the dynamics discussed in the podcast. Also, it sounds like much of what is discussed is manifest as neighborhood effects or that neighborhood is simply a proxy for things like education, role models, support, etc that could be the target of policy independent of location.

Aug 19th
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Felix Bart

Drew Misner Great interview!

Aug 20th
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Keith Trainor

This one is a fascinating topic, but a tough listen. Maybe there is a better spokesperson out there for Medicare For All, but perhaps there is not. This guest didn't seem to hear 50% of the questions he was asked.

Aug 15th
Reply

Fion Lewis

Keith Trainor Agree...

Aug 16th
Reply

Tom Garundazoo

I think they are miss using 'ambivalent' what I think they really mean is 'uncertainty' or 'nuance' which are totally different

Aug 13th
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Justin M.J. Harris

such a good episode very easy to connect the points he was making to what's going on today

Jul 19th
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Rita Moore

Justin M.J. Harris 😂you may right

Jul 19th
Reply

Vedant Mhatre

She sounds like Nancy Pelosi

Jul 17th
Reply

Nicolas Brylle

Talk about being a snowflake hahaha. And the hypocrisy...

Jul 9th
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Andrew Leoni

its interesting to hear ezra work on his promos

Jul 8th
Reply

Elliott Wallace

This character is a piece of work.

Jul 8th
Reply

Gene

The decline of Christian America is not necessarily an inevitable trend. People are abandoning Christianity because the religion, at the hight of its political power, failed terrifically at addressing society's basic human needs. Instead, Christianity was hijacked by right wing conservatism and weaponised as a crutch for its political goal. While the country shift towards left of centre, Christianity still has a place in progressive politics. It requires leaders within these religious institutions to stop "conserving" and start "progressing."

Jul 8th
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Sharon McKinnon

too bad the mixing is off, sounds like it would have been interesting

Jul 8th
Reply

Eric Hove

This recording got messed up somehow.

Jul 8th
Reply

Eu

Eric Hove the mixing is fucked

Jul 8th
Reply

Nathaniel Stigen

Does the Vox walkout change the way you look at Vox?

Jun 28th
Reply

Tom Garundazoo

it's a common thing but I think it's dumb to reinforce this idea of left and right as these clear unambiguous concepts that can be used continuously without any dissection. it creates a narrow minded unconcious dogmatic paradigm of the possibilities of the world. If you're going to use 'left' and 'right' like in this show I think you should explain how you see the terms. You can be an advocate for free market reforms and concerned about the environment. You can be an authoritarian socialist. You can be concerned about climate change but not care about species extinction, sure people tend to group think/be tribal. but I would have thought a show like this would be about not reinforcing unthinking group think

Jun 23rd
Reply

Facts Don't Care About Your Feelings

Ezra is the worst kind of bad faith political pundit. He is a full blown feminized SJW, and his articles are full of inaccuracies (most likely in the form of intentional lies, but perhaps he is just sloppy when it comes to fact checking). I try to give all viewpoints a chance but I would rather listen to someone who is open-minded. Ezra seems to be the same old tired extremist calling everyone that disagrees with him a racist, sexist, homeophobic Nazi. I am open to suggestions for other podcasters on the left to give a chance however, feel free to share, all I ask is that they be open minded and willing to listen, and have discussions in good faith.

Jun 5th
Reply
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