CEI Annual Dinner 2019: Katherine Mangu-Ward


We’re still thanking everyone who supported, sponsored, and attended the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s 35th Anniversary Dinner and Reception last month. One of the superstars of the program that we’re especially grateful to is our fabulous master of ceremonies, Reason magazine editor-in-chief Katherine Mangu-Ward. You can watch her remarks in the video below, or read the text in the following transcript. Also, please save the date for next year’s dinner on June 17, 2020.


Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to CEI’s 35th anniversary dinner. I am Katherine Mangu-Ward, the editor-in-chief of Reason magazine and your harsh-task mistress for this evening.

I will start by saying: stay down, all of y’all, or I will send this guy for you. I also want to start by saying: look at this room full of beautiful nerds. I am so happy to be here among you. It is brimming over with humans equally in love with deregulation and dragons. What more could I ask in life? Except for you to sit down!

We are living our own best libertarian stereotype. I could not be more proud. There are not too many people here in Washington who fall asleep every night thinking of the federal agencies that they would like to murder. I am delighted to be in a room with so many of them. You will just have to hope that no one planted a cache of wildfire under this building, or the entire libertarian movement is doomed.

I do want to be serious for a minute. This is CEI’s 35th birthday, and I think – that’s right – I think I speak for many of us in this room when I say that no one thought it would last this long.

It’s hard to measure success in Washington. But there is no doubt in my mind that the gang at CEI has made a real difference for the cause of smaller government and greater economic freedom in this God-forsaken town. They stick up for the little guys, and – let’s be real – some very big guys because they believe it’s the right thing to do.

They always do what they believe is the right thing to do, and they do it – most impressively – joyfully. The guys at CEI – and gals – always seem to be having fun. They plunge into the fray, whitepapers aloft, just unafraid of the odds against them. They emerge bloodied but unbowed. Like George R.R. Martin, their work will never be done.

I could not be happier to be here celebrating with all you true-believers, and I am genuinely honored to be part of this 35th birthday celebration. But enough of the sappiness, I have some important announcements:

  • First, there will be – as always – prizes given for the best tweet of the night. You should use the CEI Dinner hashtag. I don’t know who actually judges these prizes, but if it’s me, which it might be, you should know that I am both bribe-able and flatter-able. So, just FYI. The prizes for that competition were donated, as usual, by a man who drinks and knows things: David Ozgo of the Distilled Spirits Council, ladies and gentlemen. I am told that the prizes are some bottles of Johnny Walker White Walker Whisky. So, get your “tweeter machines” fired up. Again, hashtag is #CEIDinner.

  • We have an incredible show for you tonight. We have Johan Norberg, we have Dave Barry, we have that crazy little movie that CEI does every year, and a bonus anniversary movie. So, stay tuned for those. We have a wide open bar.

So, let’s get started. First, it is my great honor to hand the microphone over to Kent Lassman. Kent Lassman, ladies and gentlemen. He had a big skirt to fill when he took over from Lawson Bader. He has done ably, and of course, works always in the mold of the legendary Fred Smith.

Under Kent’s leadership, CEI has seized new opportunities to have real influence in Washington while remaining faithful to its core nerd-ball identity. Kent is also a much nicer person than I am, so if you need a dose of insincerity or human kindness tonight, get it now because I will be back.