I met Romanchuk about a decade ago in Thailand, of all places. He was sent to me by colleagues at the International Republican Institute, where I was working at the time, to help with a problem I was having with my Burmese dissidents. They were good guysâ??committed to democracy and willing to risk their lives for it. They were also big admirers of Communist economic theories, and did not seem to understand the infrangible link between the economics of Marxism and its political tyranny. My attempts to get them to read the Economist and Adam Smith were going nowhere, so I got the idea that it might help them to hear from someone who had actually lived under a Communist system and had run away from it screaming.
Enter Romanchuk. He was as close to a pure Ayn Rand-spouting Objectivist as I have ever met, not to mention an incredibly brilliant economist who gave my well-intentioned Burmese dissidents brain cramps when he clearly explained how oppressive an economy based on redistribution and “social justice” actually was in real life. You could have heard a pin drop when he told them about the unsuccessful attempts on his life as a result of his work with an opposition political party under Lukashenko’s dictatorship. He also exhibited an unbelievably foul sense of humor and could, naturally, drink us all under the table, which he proceeded to do every night. Because he had street credibility, the Burmese dissidents could relate to him immediately. They never stopped asking for me to bring him back for a second round, but unfortunately I was unable to do so.
See her full blog post for more context for this anecdote.