For the record, our trade deficit last year (through November) with the UK was about a billion dollars. With Canada it was $24 billion, and most of that was oil and gas. With France, it was $10 billion. With Germany, it was a too-high $31 billion. Combined, our trade deficits with these four economic powers come to $65 billion or so—about one quarter our deficit with China alone.

Which brings us to a big hole in Klein’s column: That one of the big reasons we can’t compete on price is because the Chinese manipulate their currency (undervaluing it by 40 percent, some say) and illegally subsidize their companies.

And we let them do it, in large part because “even the liberals” like Klein say it’s cool.

Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu.