I am about two-thirds of my way through the latest book by Joseph Stiglitz, The Price of Inequality. Stiglitz is a recipient of the Nobel prize in Economics and a former chief economist of the World Bank. But he is not a traditional economist.

First, unlike most academic economists Stiglitz is sympathetic to Leftist ideas. Actually, he is way out on the Left end of the political spectrum. In the beginning of the book Stiglitz talks approvingly of the Occupy movement and Los Indignados. Later there are favorable mentions of such left-wing South American leaders as Inácio Lula and Hugo Chávez, who came to power in some of the most economically unequal countries and managed to reduce the inequality. And Stiglitz inveighs against the ‘Right’ on numerous occasions throughout the book.

This is unusual for an economist, especially such an accomplished one who is (or, at least, has been) part of the ruling elite. Most economists know very well which side of their bread is buttered. It is curious how economic theories that yield answers pleasing to the powerful and wealthy tend to be part of the mainstream, while those yielding uncomfortable answers are relegated to the fringe…

Read more at Social Evolution Forum.