The French economist whose 685-page Capital in the Twenty-First Century became a surprise 2014 bestseller has rejected the country's top honor, saying the government should concentrate on fixing the economy instead of giving out awards. "I refuse this nomination because I do not think it is the government's role to decide who is honorable," Thomas Piketty tells AFP, which notes that he supported the Socialist Party in the 2012 election but has since been a fierce critic of President Francois Hollande's policies.
Piketty, who wants a complete overhaul of the tax system to reverse inequality, says the government's priority should be reviving the French and European economies. He had been nominated for the Legion of Honor by the country's education ministry, reports the Wall Street Journal. "We take note of his decision to refuse the distinction," the minister in charge of universities and research says. "The excellence and the visibility of his work remain." It is rare for a nominee to reject the award, although Jean-Paul Sartre and Pierre and Marie Curie also turned it down, the BBC notes. (Read more Thomas Piketty stories.)