COLA - the cost of living adjustment - is just like the real thing. It artificially gets the economy racing but then the effect wears off. The long-term impact of the indiscriminate use of COLA on the economy is the same thing as the long-term indiscriminate use of caffeine. It gives you a false sense of energy.
When times are tough, like they are right now with the economy in a condition worse than a beggar's tattered clothes, all you hear are gloom-and-doom stories about businesses in financial ruin, families losing their homes to foreclosures and people losing their jobs.
I've recently taken up the habit of walking my dog in the subdivision across the street from my house. I never did it before I left for college, but now that my dog's fatter (than he already was), I figured it's the responsible thing to do.