Friday, June 12, 2009

The CEI 25th Anniversary Dinner

I spent most of yesterday preparing for and then attending CEI's 25th anniversary party. After arriving at the office I tracked down a credit card and went to pick up my tuxedo. Big ups to CEI for the gratis tux rental. There's a tailor in the basement of CEI's building, Sauro Custom Tailor and Formal Wear. I felt a little awkward wearing evening attire before noon, but it isn't as though anyone cared.

I had lots of "interny" things to do in the afternoon. I carried boxes all over the place, put name tags into name tag holders, and unpacked the swag. Each attendee got a mini lava lamp (these were the subject of many off-color jokes by staff and guests alike) and an anniversary-themed "Enjoy Capitalism" shirt similar to the ones you can buy at the Bureaucrash store. The miniature lava lamps looked pretty neat stacked up in the spare cardboard boxes we used to move them into the dining room. Whenever a box got nudged, they'd start glowing in synchronization with each other.

After that, I helped put programs and swag at each table. Then starting around 6:00 I started directing people from the elevator to the reception area. This meant I missed out on the open bar, but oh well, such is the life of an intern. After about an hour of that, we started herding folks into the dining room, and dinner started.

There were over 500 people in the room. The main course was black sea bass with parmesan risotto, braised leeks, asparagus spears, red peppers, and saffron sauce. There were speakers and video presentations throughout the evening. The most talked-about presentations were the keynote speaker's address and the "It's a Wonderful Institute" video.

The keynote speech was given by John Allison, chairman of BB&T bank, whose analysis of the bailouts would have made Ayn Rand proud. He explained that the government had forced healthy banks to take TARP funds--at interest--so that receiving TARP money wouldn't automatically stigmatize a business. This goes a long way towards explaining how some institutions are ready to repay TARP money.

The "It's a Wonderful Institute" video was a humorous look at what America would be like without CEI there to fight for liberty. It starred the Institute's own Ryan Radia, who is responsible for such things as referring to CEI as "The Institute" and the extensive use of the adjective "honorable" by CEI members.

The evening closed with CEI's video promoting "Human Achievement Hour," a response to the "Earth Hour" put on by various environmentalist groups. This was followed by a toast.

After dinner, everyone headed back to the reception area for an afterparty. There was an open bar, live music, an ice sculpture, and funky furniture. I was able to enjoy a scotch rocks and later a gin and tonic. Everyone seemed to be in good spirits coming out of the dinner.

The party was scheduled to last until 1 AM, although I had to leave around 11:30 to catch the Metro back to the office. I joined up with the other interns and headed out. All said, it was a very cool experience, and everyone I've talked to seems to have enjoyed it.

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