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The Ethicalist: Pawnbrokers.

Dear Ethicalist,

I’ve been jonesing fierce for a new bike. Not something overly awesome, or something I need a beard and a steady diet of falafel to ride—a used bike in the style of Breaking Away would be i-fucking-deal. Just needs to get me to Whole F—I mean the liquor-and-awesome-pants store—and back, be OK out in the rain for a leisurely time and not all self conscious about rust, and best not too coveted by thieves.
I’ve spied a few such conveyances in my local gray market. They meet my wants and at a not unreasonable ransom. I don’t mind buying used Ibanez guitars at pawn shops, for mulleteers in distress are not my concern, but pawn shop bikes, I worry, may be the ends of the very rack-poachin I pray to avoid myself. Is it ethical for me to buy low from a tattooed gentleman who considers shotgun shells office supplies, or should I save up and pay the cost to be boss?

Yours, truly,
Silver Spring Sans Cycle

Dear SSSC,
Your hand-wringing is unbecoming. Pawnbrokers are not all fences—what self-respecting midnight marauder would steal the class of crap in most pawn shops? Pawns are a community institution—the eBay of history. They even have an established symbol, like barbers, only with less cutting hair and more usury. If 29.9% APR on my credit card is ethical, your purchase of a bike from a pawn shop is ethical. You may even be helping some nice young man cover his unfortunate tab at the Quarry House. Those $8 ryes really add up!
Yours ethically,
Andy Cone

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