There seem to be discussions going on ahead of the Pre-Budget Report next Monday about cutting VAT to boost consumer spending and thus reflate the economy. Seems to me that the ideal solution would be to cut VAT on 'goods' but not on 'bads' - ie. on environmentally-friendly or healthy products, and also on essential items, but not on what could be termed 'useless tat'. So we'd encourage spending, but not mass consumption on a hugely wasteful scale, and achieve certain social objectives too (e.g. on obesity, fuel efficiency, etc).
But I suppose this would just end up being hugely bureaucratic, with companies falling over themselves to prove in court that cheesestrings, Poptarts and Sunny Delight are in the fact the cornerstone of a nutritious diet, and that the average household really cannot exist without Teasmades and electric carving knives and George Foreman grills.
Speaking of household items, I've had my oldest nephew staying with me on occasion lately. He was amazed when he saw me making toast for him. "You cook your toast?" He had never, at the age of 18, seen toast cooked under a grill before. He kept burning it when he tried, so I have now relented and spent £3.92 on a toaster from Sainsbury's for him. (How on earth can a toaster be £3.92? I almost spent £20 more just so that I didn't feel I was contributing to the disposable, throw-it-away-when-it-breaks as it no doubt will, society... but then that seemed a bit silly too.) I am happy to report that he toasted a muffin this morning without any problems.