WHAT A CLEVER solution Mayor Barry has found to The Great Deficit Problem: don't talk about it, because it's too complicated for his public to understand. This, we are being told by the man in charge of running the city, makes for better communications: "I made the decision that we really ought to communicate better with people by not getting them confused with all these numbers," Mr. Barry said the other day at his first press conference in more than two months. Now, is that quite clear?

What a relief; this way, instead of being all confused, each of us gets a big surprise when we find out what has happened to our favorite city services. And without any numbers, the deficit won't amount to anything, no matter what it turns out to be, because nobody but the mayor will know what it is. Still clear?

Actually, this policy is nothing new with the Barry administration. Those numbers on your water bills have always been confusing. So were those odd voter registration numbers last year. And all those worst-case insurance rates that Mr. Barry trotted out to confuse his own government into believing it couldn't administer its new no-fault insurance law. Can you imagine the fuss if people realized exactly how many days after the snowstorm the roads were still messy?

The trouble with Mayor Barry's public-be-dumb attitude is that it could prove contagious. Why bother, for example, with any of those confusing numbers on D.C. income tax forms? For that matter, people may conclude that since the mayor doesn't count, he isn't needed. Better to let confusion reign with an informed public than a mayor with cards up his sleeves.