You don't think it's a rip off when VAT is on the price of the product and shipping combined? On second hand goods as well?
No I don't.
You buy a train ticket here, you pay VAT on it - you just don't dwell on it as it's all bundled into the price of the ticket. Shipping is no different except the company shipping (if based in the States) doesn't pay your VAT - they'll pay tax over there though which will be calculated into the shipping quote.
When the item arrives here VAT is levied on it for both shipping (which has not yet been taxed for UK), and for the item itself.
The only rip off (if you see it that way) is that you are paying two lots of tax - one in US, one in UK.
This is down to us not having a free trade policy with the US in the way we do with the EU countries.
It's not rip-off Britain at all - residents in France or wherever would be in exactly the same situation. Hence my comment before on what we get out of the EU.
Second hand items is a difficult one but they are only second hand in the states. Again, tax has never been levied on the item over here - hence the combined tax on both shipping and item value when said item arrives at a UK port.