Try burning at 8x. A difficult pill to swallow but many a dodgy 48x drive has become a good 8/16x one
It'll only take 10 minutes to burn a CD anyway and if the drive is in any way working it should give a good burn on any media at this speed.
If it doesn't, then it is probably time for the bin. Have you tried reading the discs it produces in a different CDROM?
These Norcent drives; they're the $9.99 ones from a few months ago aren't they? Did we ever get to the bottom of who makes them -- I seem to recall Optorite being mentioned but I'm not sure.
But yes, CMC discs are garbage in many, many writers (including some very good ones -- the LG 16x and Plextor 24x HATE them). Try if you can to get some Ritek, TY and Verbatim/Mitsubishi based discs and see if they work any better.