As has been widely reported, South Carolina used $450 million in incentives to help secure Boeing's second final assembly plant for its 787 Dreamliner, to be built in North Charleston, S.C. You can read more about this in my previous blog, or in this news story here.

That's certainly not an unusual situation these days. Government entities of all political leanings regularly use these kinds of incentives to win business investment in their communities. In conservative (but charming) South Carolina, however, it almost was a bit of an issue -- or, as The Herald newspaper of Rock Hill, S.C., more precisely called it, "the Sanford issue." To sum up, Gov. Mark Sanford (R) doesn't like such packages, having touted this as one of his political principles.

Despite his recent troubles, Gov. Sanford -- who first gained notoriety by trying to reject South Carolina's share of the federal stimulus package -- certainly still has his political ideals. For instance, he most recently proclaimed his love of minimalist government in the Nov. 2, 2009, issue of Newsweek. There he penned a review of sorts about several recent books about Ayn Rand, the author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, most notably, and founder of the conservative philosophical movement referred to as objectivism. Honestly, while I've never read Rand -- I tried once -- I think I can accurately describe the philosophy of objectivism as essentially holding the individual and his/her rights as supreme to all other notions, with his/her pursuit of happiness considered the proper moral purpose in life. (What critics would call "selfishness," she termed "rational self-interest.") She also believed that government's role should be as minimal as possible, and mostly confined to military endeavors.

In his Newsweek column, Sanford states that he believes he is "one of the few who fall somewhere in between" loving and hating Rand's work. At the same time, he obviously has a strong affinity for her philosophy, which, again, strongly eschews government interference of most kinds.

Sanford writes: "It isn't collective action that makes this nation prosperous and secure; it's the initiative and creativity of the individual....There is a role for limited government in making sure that my rights end where yours begin. There is a role for a limited government in thwarting man's more selfish instincts that might limit the freedoms or opportunities of others." Again, no mention of his appreciation for government bestowing largesse on behalf of companies or individuals.

Again, Sanford's stance on this was a bit of a concern during the Boeing talks: "A question asked quietly was whether Sanford would go along with the incentive-laden deal," the Herald reported. "Sanford was elected twice promising, in part, to reduce government involvement in the business marketplace. (Commerce Secretary Joe) Taylor would not disclose his discussions with the governor, but in general, he said, 'We're not in the business of picking winners and losers or offering incentives that give one company an advantage over another company. But there is nobody else in the state making airplanes.'" You can read more here.

Of course, in the end, despite voicing opposition to such stimulative-type deals in the past, the governor came back to reality to put aside his romantic dalliance with Rand and her fantastical objectivism, signed the $450-million incentives deal and issued a warm, South Carolina welcome to Boeing and its Dreamliner plant. What's a Southern gentleman to do, after all? It would've been so un-genteel to nix the happy couple's wedding plans.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who played a major role in the negotiations, said in the end, Gov. Sanford accepted the reality of the situation. "Mark has his philosophical views about recruiting," he told The Herald. "At one point, I told him, 'You have to spend money to make money.'"

Truer words were never spoken. So what do you think? Should Gov. Sanford have stood on his political principles and rejected the deal? Or did he do the right thing by approving it? Let us hear your opinions!

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