Libertarians, not right-wingers, thank you very much

A senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute responds to accusations of hypocrisy


Andrew Leonard
January 26, 2009 7:45PM (UTC)

Last Thursday, I wrote some unkind things about a press release from the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Eli Lehrer, a CEI Senior Fellow, took issue with some of my points:

Thanks for covering our press release. I mean it: I've always thought that any publicity is good publicity. You might, however, have wanted to check on the nature of my work: I don't work on global warming for CEI and, indeed, I have never really worked on environmental issues as such for CEI or anyone else. I also opposed the Bush administration's midnight rule-making long before it left office. Here's a letter (that I drafted) and was signed by the Environmental Defense Fund, the National Wildlife Federation, and Republicans for Environmental Projection, as well as some free-market groups. Here's a story that National Journal did about it. (Reuters and a bunch of others covered it as well.) As you'll see, the letter pre-dates the election. We didn't change course.

To the extent I work on environmental issues at all -- I work on flood issues (but do so mostly from an insurance perspective) -- I think it would be fair to say that a number of environmental groups consider me an ally. I personally support measures that would "strengthen environmental protections" by reducing subsidies for development in flood-prone areas and, in addition, have spoken a good deal about the importance of wetlands preservation. My own work has never involved taking a position on measures that would "reduce greenhouse gas emissions...[or] increase fuel economy or energy efficiency." You'll have to ask my colleagues who work on energy issues for more specifics, but I think you'll find they support measures likely to increase energy efficiency. (e.g. ending ethanol subsidies.) There are plenty of things I support that would place significant restrictions on "profit-seeking corporations in the marketplace" -- many corporations are (a) inclined towards deceptive and fraudulent practices and (b) want government subsidies to do it. I think that both are things that everyone -- including government -- should fight. One last point, I don't really mind being called a "right winger" myself but I think that you'd be hard pressed to call CEI a "right-wing" organization. We're libertarian and I think our work shows it.

Yours truly,

Eli Lehrer

Just for the record, I will note that the opinions expressed in my post reflected the body of work produced by CEI over the years, and not Eli Lehrer's specific domain of expertise.

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Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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