The campus of Catholic University of America
The Catholic University of America recently announced
that it received a donation of $15 millionthe largest single donation in school
historyto assist with the operational needs of the School of Business and
Economics and related academic programs. The gift comes from the Busch Family
Foundation, and the CUA business school will be renamed the Tim and Steph Busch
School of Business and Economics in the donor couple’s honor. Other major
donors joined with Busch, resulting in a total donation of $47 million.
Tim Busch is an attorney from Orange County and
founder of the Busch Firm, which specializes in high net-worth estate planning
as well as real estate and business transactions. He is also founder and CEO of
Pacific Hospitality Group, a hotel development and management company that owns
and manages eight hotels in California.
Busch grew up in Clinton, Michigan, in the
Detroit metro area. He was the second of six children in a devoutly Catholic family.
Busch’s father, Joe, introduced him to the business world; Joe founded and
operated Busch’s Fresh Food Market, a chain of 15 upscale supermarkets in
Michigan, which Tim and his brothers own today.
Busch earned a B.B.A. degree from Western
Michigan University, and then went on to earn a J.D. from Wayne State
University Law School in Detroit, Michigan. In search of a warmer climate and
better business opportunities, Busch re-located to Southern California in 1982.
He married Steph in 1985.
Busch is unabashed about sharing his
Catholicism, explaining, “The focus of my life is getting myself to heaven and
to help others get there, too.”
In addition to multiple successful business
enterprises, Busch is also actively involved in a number of Catholic
apostolates and charities. Since 1990, he has been a member of Legatus, an
organization for Catholic CEOs and their spouses. He also joined with Father
Robert Spitzer, SJ to found the Magis Institute, which uses modern science and
technology to explore the intersection between faith and reason. In 2011, Busch
and Father Spitzer launched the Napa
Institute, an annual conference which aims to equip Catholic leaders to
defend and advance their Catholic faith in “the Next America,” today’s increasingly
secular society. The Napa Institute’s next conference will take place at the
Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa Valley July 6-10.
Tim Busch recently spoke with CWR.
CWR: There are many
Catholic charities and non-profits that would be worthy recipients of
donations. Why did you choose CUA’s business school?
Tim Busch: My wife and
I have been involved in Catholic education since 1992, when we started St.
Anne’s School in Laguna Niguel and JSerra Catholic High School in San Juan
Capistrano. Our two children attended these schools, which offered both an
education in the Faith and strong academics.
I’ve been on the board of Catholic University
for 12 years. Early on, I didn’t know a lot about their programs, but over the
years, I’ve learned. Three years ago, I became a member of the board of
visitors for Catholic University’s School of Business and Economics. I saw the
opportunity to change the way business was presented in the educational format,
to make it a place where students could have a conversation about what Catholic
social teaching is all about. Others were willing to partner with us, which led
to the $47 million gift.
CWR: What will
the funds be used for?
Busch: It will be
used to renovate Maloney Hall on the grounds of Catholic University, where the
business and economics school will be relocated. Maloney Hall was built in
1917, and was once used as a chemistry building and research lab. It’s been out
of service for several years, so we’ll put it back into service.
It will also fund academic programs in the
school, as well as a new Institute for Human Ecology. This includes the hiring
of new professors and an effort to grow the school, which currently has about
CWR: How will
CUA’s business school differ from one at a secular institution?
Busch: It offers a
more holistic education, as half the classes a student takes are outside the
business school, such as classes in philosophy. When I went to business school,
I never took classes like that.
I think there is a really opportunity right now.
If you look at the country’s law schools, they’re declining in enrollment. This
is due in part to the high cost of going to law school, and the limited
opportunities for jobs upon graduation. Only a handful of graduates are finding
Millennials are more attracted to business, where
they can really make a difference.
CWR: Some have
criticized CUA and its business school for associating with you and with the
Charles Koch Foundation, which was one of the other contributors to the $47
million gift, arguing that free-market capitalism is not consistent with
Catholic belief. You have publicly disagreed. Can you share your thoughts on
Busch: This is at
the heart of what I’m doing. I believe all kinds of people, whether they be on
the political right or left, conservative or progressive, want to see the
prosperity of mankind. And if anyone says they have a better idea of how to
achieve it than the free-market system, let’s hear it!
Over the past century, we’ve seen wars fought
over economic models such as fascism, socialism, and communism. How did that
work out for mankind? These “isms” don’t lead to justice, but violence. People
don’t get what they need to survive and resort to violence to get it.
And when we abandon free markets, the Church
suffers, because when the Church stands up for the rights of individuals, the
government has to suppress it.
We need a system that involves the common man in
the economy so he can enjoy its benefits. This starts with giving business
people the freedom to build successful businesses, which employ workers who can
earn a decent living and provide for their needs. There will always be an
imbalance of material resources in the world as some achieve more than others, but
this disparity provides an opportunity for charity.
We don’t help the poor by giving them a handout,
but by providing them a place at the table so they can provide for themselves. If
they’re on the dole and simply get a check each month, this won’t bring them
joy or allow the system to prosper.
Charles Koch is not Catholic, but he’s
fascinated by the Catholic Church’s teachings regarding economics and society.
He believes that our country was founded on principles consistent with Catholic
social teaching, and that we have the system that will lead to the greatest
prosperity for all mankind.
I’ve learned a lot from the Koch family. They
believe that mankind can prosper when you give people opportunities and a
chance to control their own destiny. I think that people who fear them don’t
understand them. Charles Koch wrote a book, Good
Profit, which I believe is very consistent with Catholic social teaching. He
shouldn’t be attacked, but applauded.
CWR: There are
millions of Americans living in poverty or who are dependent on government
assistance to survive. Is the free-market system the best way to help them?
already been proven throughout the world. In places that are adopting free-market
capitalism, we see people being raised out of poverty. That doesn’t mean that there
isn’t more to do, but that capitalism creates an environment in which the
ordinary person is most likely to prosper.
The largest improvements in the conditions of
mankind in the history of the world have been attributable to the free market. It
starts with people being able to get the financing and freedom they need to
start small businesses, which in turn create jobs. Big business doesn’t create
jobs, they cut jobs and consolidate. Small business does [create jobs].
recently wrote an opinion column for Forbes
celebrating the 125th anniversary of the release of Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum. It seems that Rerum Novarum contains a good balance
for Catholics who lean left or right on economic issues. On one hand, for
example, Leo expresses concern for the welfare of the working man and insists
he be allowed to earn a decent living in safe working conditions, but on the
other he defends private property and urges unionized workers not to strike and
Busch: That’s a
good summary. [Rerum Novarum] was written in 1891, and is something that should
be more widely read. It came at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution,
when child labor abuses and sweatshops were widespread.
Fast-forward 100 years to 1991, when Pope John
Paul II released Centesimus Annus at
the time of the fall of communism in the Soviet Union. He took Rerum Novarum and gave it a modern
focus. Pope John Paul clearly attacks communism and socialism, for example,
which for decades had suppressed the Church and freedom of religion, as well as
private property. He also defended private property and markets, while calling
for the defense of the rights of the poor and needy. I believe that’s what
Catholic social teaching is all about, striking the right balance between the
two, while looking at the common good and society as a whole.
I believe that if we adopt the principles
outlined in these encyclicals we’ll not only have more harmony in society, but
create greater wealth, providing more goods and services that people need.
CWR: In Rerum Novarum, Leo asserts that in view
of eternity, what counts is not how much we have but how we use what we have. Is
there a lesson here for our materialistic culture?
Busch: Yes. It
reminds me of the old saying: there won’t be a Brink’s truck following behind
the hearse. When God gives us wealth, he gives it to us as stewards. That’s why
Steph and I are so pleased to be able to support Catholic University’s business
school. We see it as a responsible use of resources, which can leverage other
resources to bring about the education of students who will create greater wealth
and improve society.
Keep in mind that in whatever system in which
you find yourself, someone has to own the property. In a communist system, the
government owns it. In a monarchy, the king owns it. In a capitalist system,
the people own it. Those of us in a private property system are accountable to
God for how we use our wealth. And, when we donate to charities, we need to
hold them accountable. They need to be responsible, just as donors need to be.
CWR: In your
years in business, are there any unethical practices, behaviors, or attitudes
you’ve observed that particularly concern you?
Busch: Two things
come to mind. First, Wall Street is too focused on pure profit rather than
building up business. I have friends who call it “rent seeking.”
Wall Street people buy low, then look for the
chance to sell high and turn a quick profit. It disrupts the economic system,
and is indicative of a failed economic system. People are motivated by a quick
rate of return; the markets have conditioned people to behave this way.
I’m in the hotel business. We buy a hotel and
hold on to it. We’re building a business.
Second, I don’t like to see businesses trying to
figure out ways not to provide benefits to their employees. They might, for
example, employ someone less than 20 hours a week so as not to have to pay
their health benefits. This is why we have Obamacare, which has taken over
one-sixth of the economy.
In my business, we employ many low-income
people. When I meet with them, I ask, “Do you have health insurance?” I’m
pleased to say everyone did, except one young man who chose not to, so he could
save $100 a month or some such amount. I really scolded him for that!
CWR: What government
policies do you think are most harmful to businessmen as they try to establish
successful businesses which can offer people jobs and opportunity?
hurts small business. Big business can afford to hire accountants and lawyers
to help them navigate the regulatory system, but the small business guy can’t
afford that. In the end, excessive regulation is protectionism for big business.
Heavy taxation destroys jobs and businesses. In
my state, California, our federal and state tax rates combined on business are
more than 50 percent. This is far higher than many other parts of the world.
An issue frequently discussed in the news of
late is the minimum wage. When you raise it you look like you’re helping the
worker, but you’re actually doing him great harm. This is especially true for
the entry-level or unskilled employee, as you eliminate his job or move it
The minimum wage is an anti-market regulation
that leads to unemployment. California’s minimum wage will be raised to $15 an hour
by 2022. This will lead manufacturers to move jobs to states where the minimum
wage is nearly half of California’s. If the federal government raises the
national minimum wage, jobs will move overseas. All the research shows this.
What people need to realize is that it is the
job that is essential, and the pay secondary. Once people are working, they can
acquire additional skills or be promoted from within to earn higher pay. But
the minimum wage can eliminate them from having any opportunity to work in the
Karcher (1917-2008), founder of the Carl’s Jr. restaurant chain, was a daily
communicant. He’d give people he’d meet a St. Francis prayer card along with a
coupon for a free Carl’s chicken sandwich. One of his 12 children became a
priest. Are there any Catholic businessmen you’ve known who have been a
particular inspiration or role model to you?
Busch: I knew Carl
well. He was a good man.
One person who immediately comes to mind is Tom
Monaghan, founder of Legatus. He espouses all of these principles of Catholic
social teaching that we’ve discussed. He’s had his challenges, but I think he
always tries to do what’s right.
There are many other friends I could point to,
such as those on the Catholic University board of visitors. They’re all great
Catholic people, striving to do good with their lives.
CWR: Tell me
about your activities with Legatus and how it has helped you and your peers
better live your faith.
Busch: Legatus has
been very important to me, a game-changer in my life. I’ve been involved with
it for 26 years; its purpose is to integrate faith into the workplace. We meet
monthly. Our members try to incorporate Mass and the sacraments into their
daily lives, and say the Rosary and chaplet. It’s a rare phenomenon in the
business world. It really inspired me to get involved in the world of Catholic
education, and support such organizations as Catholic University.