Episodit

  • 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)

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    Credits:
    Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma
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  • 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

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    Credits:
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    Researcher - Roge Karma
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  • Puuttuva jakso?

    Paina tästä ja päivitä feedi.

  • 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

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  • 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

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    Credits:
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  • 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


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    Credits:
    Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma
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  • 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


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    Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma
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  • 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 ezrakleinshow@vox.com
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    Researcher - Roge Karma
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  • 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)

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    Researcher - Roge Karma
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  • 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?

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  • 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 

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  • We have something a bit different today. Two episodes from our extraordinary colleagues at Today, Explained, both of them close to my heart. 
    The first is an episode that I worked with them on, and appear in: The Loneliness Pandemic. It’s about the social consequences of social distancing, and the toll that isolation and loneliness takes on our health. It's about how the people most vulnerable to isolation are being told to quarantine, and what that will do to their lives. And it's about what the rest of us can do to help.
    The second is simply one of the best, most important podcast episodes I’ve heard in ages: It’s about how we’re treating the same workers we call “essential” as disposable, endangering them and their families, and calling them heroes even as we refuse to give them raises. And it's about the possibility — and historical precedent — for labor action in this moment, to make sure essential workers are treated as essential. Do not miss it. And if you’re lucky enough to be working from home, think about what you can do to stand in solidarity with those making your safety possible. 
    You can, and should, subscribe to "Today, Explained," wherever you get your podcasts. 

    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
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  • The Democratic presidential primary is over. Joe Biden is the presumptive nominee heading into the fall. And this week, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren endorsed their former competitor.
    On the left, the question is: What went wrong? How did Sanders lose to Biden? Why didn’t Warren catch fire? But too few of these postmortems have had sufficient data to build out their theories. And too many of them explain away strategic and tactical failures as media or establishment conspiracies.
    Sean McElwee has a different perspective. McElwee is the co-founder and executive director of Data for Progress, an organization that utilizes cutting-edge polling and data-analysis techniques to support progressive causes. His aim is to fashion an agenda that is both progressive and popular. But he also sits atop mountains of data that let him test hypotheses with a lot more rigor than most armchair pundits.
    As a result, McElwee has a fascinating, heterodox view of the 2020 primary, the Sanders and Warren campaigns, and what it will take for progressives to build power. We discuss the critical mistakes both major progressive candidates made, which progressive ideas are most popular with the American people, how the left’s theory of class politics interferes with its most obvious path to electoral victory, why maximalist policy agendas fail even when they look like they’re succeeding, what good (and bad) Overton Window politics look like, how progressives can shape Biden’s presidency, and much, much more.
    References:
    How Joe Biden won over Bernie Sanders — and the Democratic Party by Ezra Klein
    Book Recommendations:
    Deep Roots: How Slavery Still Shapes Southern Politics by Maya Sen


    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
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  • When will social distancing end? When will life return to “normal”? And what will it take to get there? 
    Scott Gottlieb is a physician and public health expert who served as Donald Trump’s first FDA commissioner, where he was the rare Trump appointee to win plaudits from both the left and the right. Now he’s a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute where he’s emerged as a leading voice on the coronavirus response. 
    Gottlieb is one of the lead authors of a comprehensive roadmap for what it would take to end social distancing and reopen the American economy. The report divides coronavirus response into four distinct phases (we are currently in phase one, which requires the strictest social distancing measures) and documents key “triggers” that states need to meet if they want to advance to a phase with less intense social distancing and a somewhat normal economy. It’s exactly what we need right now: a specific proposal for what comes next that we can actually analyze and debate. 
    Two themes drive this conversation. First, what are the challenges to simply getting out of lockdown? Why don’t we have enough tests yet? What’s stopping us from making more? And second, what does the world look like out of lockdown but before we get to a vaccine? What’s being imagined here isn’t a return to normal, either socially or economically, but a kind of limbo that it’s not clear we have the political will to sustain and that has few answers for the most vulnerable among us. 
    For more on this topic, I looked at not just the AEI plan but three others for this piece. I thought immersing myself in the plans to reopen the economy would be some comfort. Boy, was I wrong. 

    Resources:
    "A road map to re-opening" by Scott Gottlieb, Caitlin Rivers, Mark McClellan, Lauren Silvis, and Crystal Watson, AEI
    "I’ve read the plans to reopen the economy. They’re scary." by Ezra Klein, Vox
    The Weeds - How does this end?

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  • 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
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  • 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.”

    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
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    Researcher - Roge Karma
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  • 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
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  • 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
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  • "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
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  • “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
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  • Ron Klain served as the chief of staff to vice presidents Al Gore and Joe Biden. In 2014, President Barack Obama tapped him to lead the administration’s response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. He successfully oversaw a hellishly complex effort preparing domestically for an outbreak and surging health resources onto another continent to contain the disease.
     But Klain is quick to say that the coronavirus is a harder challenge even than Ebola. The economy is in free fall. Entire cities have been told to shelter in place. And there’s no telling how long any of this will last. In this conversation, Klain answers my questions about the disease and how to respond to it, as well as questions many of you submitted. We discuss:

    How to change the virus’s reproduction and fatality rates

    Why you need to work backward from health system capacity

    What it means to “flatten the curve”

    Why social distancing will be with us for a long time to come

    The difference between “social distancing” and “self-quarantine”

    What the Trump administration needed to do earlier, and what they still can do now

    The testing debacle

    The economic policy necessary to make social distancing possible

    Why we need to remember not everyone can work at home

    What it would take to surge health care capacity in the US — and how fast we could potentially do it 

    The strengths and weaknesses of America’s particular health care system in responding to a pandemic like this one

    Whether the coronavirus is showing authoritarian systems perform better than liberal(ish) democracies

    What Joe Biden is like in a crisis 


    And much more. I’ve been covering the coronavirus nonstop, and this is one of the clearest, most useful conversations I’ve had. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, the clarity of Klain’s analysis will help.
     Also: We want to know what kinds of coronavirus conversations you want to hear right now. Email us at ezrakleinshow@vox.com with suggestions for guests, or just angles. This is going to be a hard time, and we want this podcast to be as much a help as possible.
    Book recommendations:
    Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs by Michael Osterholm
    The Great Influenza by John Barry

    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