South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford belongs to a dying breed.
We're not talking here about fiscally conservative Republicans -- he'll probably have to buckle on spending $700 million from the Feds that he would rather use to pay down the state debt.
No, Sanford is something far more rare and far more precious than the fiscal conservative: he belongs to a species of mammal that once ranged proudly from the desert foothills of the American Southwest to the swamps of Florida. It was known as "the real estate speculator," and for many months their increasingly infrequent sightings have been confined to dollar stores and bankruptcy courts.
But not Governor Sanford! He's alive and doing fine.
He bought a house on Sullivan's Island in 1997 for $482,500 and is now selling it for $3.5 million. Sure, 12 years of ownership and a full renovation make Governor Sanford a little different from your average house-flipper.
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Unlike your circa-2006 real estate goon who would take an ugly little stucco ranch, slap some paint on it, install granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances from Home Depot and charge an extra $150,000 to the next sucker who wanted to buy it, Mark Sanford has at least legitimately classed up the joint. Heck, he probably even lived in it, or vacationed in it or whatever.
Speaking of: this 4,500-square-foot palace has a weekly vacation rental license, which means it probably wouldn't even be that hard to pay the mortgage. In the summertime, at least.
And thus we arrive at the solution to all of South Carolina's budget woes: Sanford donates his house to the state for a tidy tax deduction. The state rents the house to wealthy out-of-towners for $500,000 a week. They'll pay off the state debt in no time.
The economist and residential real estate consultant Sara K. Smith writes for NBC and Wonkette.