Social security, as it stands today, is something like a goldfish swimming in a bowl and being watched by a fascinated cat representing the declining economy.
In a recent report the trustees of the social security system warned Congress that severe financial problems exist in the social security system as it is presently constructed. Many congressmen, and even Secretary of the Treasury Regan, are wringing their hands in despair and intimate that the good old social security program will be broke in 1983.
Only House Speaker Thomas (Tip) O'Neill, whose most articulate statement to date seems to be ''All politics is local,'' tries to be reassuring.
In retirement circles, however, contestants on the shuffleboard courts have begun missing their shots right and left in their uncertainty about that all-important monthly social security check. Their eating habits change. Instead of the Blue Plate Special they now order the ''soup and sandwich special.''
But what becomes most apparent is that those on social security have a much better understanding of economy than those in Washington. They immediately see the need of adjusting their life style to their expected amount of income.
Washington hasn't had simple wisdom like this since 1834 when the United States was free of debt and President Andrew Jackson was pleased to announce that an unexpended balance of $450,000 remained in the Treasury.
Of course extra money is never as wonderful as it sounds. As the surplus grew , a fearsome battle was waged in Congress as to what to do with the money and whether of not it should be returned to the people!
Well, things have certainly changed.
We thought we would take one of our famous surveys as to how people on social security were responding to the news that the system may go broke in 1983. Nine out of ten were nervously concerned. The tenth person however, was still ordering the regular Blue Plate Special.
He explained his optimism this way: ''I spend my entire social security check each month. That money helps pay the salaries of everyone here in the community. Then some of their salary goes to paying my social security check. I don't see how a wonderful arrangement like that can ever stop.''
And he still shoots a steady, winning game of shuffleboard.