The man on the phone said, "I'd just like to ask you one question. On what grounds do the police break up a private business meeting being held on private property when there's been no complaint that anybody was disorderly or breaking the law?"

"You're talking about the pyramid clubs, I assume?"

"That's what they called it in your paper, but it is no different than any other business venture in which one starts out with a certain amount of capital and then works to increase it. What right do the police have to interfere with a private business deal?

"Would you ask what right the Securities and Exchange Commission has to interfere with investors and brokers?"

"No. There's a law that says the SEC has a right to regulate investments. I'm talking about a private business. This is a free country and a man has a right to go into any kind of business he wants to."

"What you call a business is actually an investment scheme in which newcomers pay a fee to join a pyramid. If they and other participants can recruit other newcomers who are willing to pay fees, they make a profit on their investment. Isn't that what you are talking about?"

"What's wrong with it? It works. People make money from it. I've profited from three of these plans."

"Then you must have been one of the organizers. The fatal flaw in every pyramid scheme is that they create no wealth; therefore whatever one person makes, another must lose."

For the first time, his voice became loud and he showed emotion. "That's a lie," he said. "There are 6 billion people in the world. All it takes to make a pyramid profitable is a few dozen people, a hundred maybe."

"You're defending the plan against a criticism others have made, not I. I don't talk about progressions because few people can conceive what vast numbers are involved. All I said to you was that every pyramid scheme is a fraud. It promises to be profitble for everybody involved but it can't do the fraud. It promises to be profitable for everybody involved but it can't do that because it doesn't create any wealth. It doesn't grow crops, it doesn't manufacture anything, it doesn't shine your shoes, cut your hair or mind your baby. It just moves money from one set of pockets to another. Therefore anything that flows into your pocket must have been drained out of somebody else's."

"I must say," he said bitterly, "that you are entirely different from the reasonable man I pictured from reading your column." And he hung up.