Joe Nocera on 2013's Story Lines

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Joe Nocera, op-ed columnist at The New York Times, recaps the big stories from 2012 and looks forward to what 2013 holds, from the fiscal cliff deal's impact on the overall economy, to the growing gun debate.


Joe Nocera

Comments [36]

I know that the editors on these comment pages look askance at merely pasting URLs or pasting huge sections of other person's work. On previous occasions I've found myself in agreement both policies.
Notwithstanding the above, I feel that Mr. Sam Harris has written a comprehensively thoughtful piece on some of this "gun issue"

You will find it here:

and it begins thusly

"Fantasists and zealots can be found on both sides of the debate over guns in America. On the one hand, many gun-rights advocates reject even the most sensible restrictions on the sale of weapons to the public. On the other, proponents of stricter gun laws often seem unable to understand why a good person would ever want ready access to a loaded firearm. Between these two extremes we must find grounds for a rational discussion about the problem of gun violence. . . . "

Jan. 05 2013 04:19 PM

I'm sure, given the tone of Messrs Nocera, and Lehrer, together with the plurality of the callers, that many of you will appreciate considering the role that the shooter's father played in causing this tragedy.

Is this a basis to cause a review of every gun purchase made by a person who grew up without a "father" in the home?

Jan. 03 2013 03:30 AM


Can't join in on the boycott - since I have never purchased a viewing of a Schwarzenegger movie, other than "Terminator 2".
May I ask: what did you ever see in his oeuvre or did you just lose a lot of bets? Does your violence boycott extend to "Da Jango"?

Jan. 03 2013 01:29 AM

By the way let’s all boycott the latest violent porn flick, The Last Stand, a new Schwarzenegger piece of trash, just for the fun of it!
I think hollywood will get the message rather fast that we are sick of the culture of death they are selling to our children if we stand up to them?

Or would you rather just sit on your couch

Jan. 02 2013 02:25 PM

As a citizen, voter and consumer I have every right to add to this discussion and i’m quite “comfortable” in doing so. Young Adam didn’t need a permit so in this case your solution fails. In fact his mom was there to put the weapon of death in his hand. What an odd thing to do as a mother. As odd as bringing a 5 year old to a violent batman movie.

We will know when people are serious about a solution when we stop talking about Band-Aids and start thinking about a real change to the culture of death pushed into our homes by Hollywood and Wall St Inc
You know parents are ready when behavior changes, stop waiting for the old men in Congress to save us!!

Jan. 02 2013 02:11 PM

Oh heck!

Seems we all missed this danger to the public safety.

Jan. 02 2013 02:02 PM


As with most solutions to other "issues of the day", I'm partial to resisting using scapegoats ("the mentally ill"; "law school graduates"; "the rich"; and eventually, everyone's favorites ؟, "the jews") to resolve personal or "societal" anxieties before there is some official report on how the event we're all trying to prevent took place. ( ؟ Which is not to agree that there would ever be a valid report supporting a comprehensive solution for "law school graduates" or "the jews" ؟)
(I know that your expecting that the report on the Newtown killings will support your suggestions about parents who allow paint balls, video games, and violent movies; except I'm suspicious at the haste all you problems solvers are in absent information that paint balls, video games, or violent movies played a proximate role in the "shooter's" behavior.)

But if I were to attempt to "spitball" a solution in the same state of ignorance as you find comfortable, I'd go for a regulation requiring that "carry" permits for small (38 caliber or less) revolvers
(2 or less) "shall be" issued to persons without felony records who do not suffer from a disabling mental disease or defect, who qualify as expert marksmen on two consecutive combat shooting courses.

Jan. 02 2013 01:32 PM

@ Sarah Schlechter from Weston, CT

"If 20 or 30 people were being killed or maimed at a time by contaiminated food, or if there were four major plane crashes in a year, or if children were being killed by a popular toy, the american people would be up in arms demanding the government to do something..."

It's so sad but the things you mention (well, aside from the planes) are also happening, in addition to the gun violence. With a second term Obama, let's hope that enough outraged Americans feel empowered to work their government to ban poisons and carcinogens from toys, jewelry, beauty products -- not to mention our food, water and medicines! Good starting place is

Jan. 02 2013 12:33 PM

Sheldon -- my thought was that Nocera's logic sounded ridiculous since his solutions did not address Newtown even though that was supposedly what the conversation topic was.

Just as most so-called liberals are using the Newtown massacre to call for a ban on all guns, Nocera was using the massacre to call for a revamped US health care system.

Unfortunately, as we all know the weapons used by the killer were stolen from a family member living under the same roof. Therefore, my assertion was to simply ban weapons that might be stolen from a family member living under the same roof as the gun owner, if the goal is to reduce the number of mass murders.

Personally, although I am a gun owner, I would gladly give them up if everyone else did. Although it would be much easier to just ban bullets. But my point was to remind us all that the outrage across America is not about gun violence (or health care). I wish it was. This is simply about automatic guns spraying across groups of white people.

BTW -- I just read through some of these comments including yours and am enlightened, you are right, it is too hard to weed out the potential killers by some sort of medical classification. I hadn't thought of it that deeply. I guess the choice we have really is to either ban these weapons or just live (with fingers crossed) with the violence.

Jan. 02 2013 12:23 PM

i guess like with all other issues of the day, no one is a fault, right?
what is your solution? head in the sand?
no no look in the mirror at the problem

Jan. 02 2013 12:18 PM
Jeffrey from Maplewood, NJ

I'm simply amazed that after what seemed to be a very clear election victory for Obama and his $250,000. tax "fix", it clearly was the Republicans that got massive concessions from Democrats in the Senate and we, the public, got screwed again. NOBODY ever points out that the typical tax payer got something like $40/year from the Bush tax cuts while wealthy tax payers got hundreds of thousands of savings, and they STILL couldn't get the figure down below $450,000. I'm sick of this. No matter what seems to be the public will, the Dems cave to the Republicans, who simply dig their heels in and refuse to give. Obama should have used his political capital, which never will be as strong again, to allow us to go "over the cliff", since the Republicans set it up as a stop-gap during the last debt ceiling debacle, and they would have gotten "stuck" with the consequences. Nothing would have happened right away, and there would have been plenty of time to rectify the big issues like Sequestration, which DIDN'T GET DONE ANYWAY. The only beneficiaries are the people who own shares in the stock market, since they read this as benefitting business, not the public. What they are overlooking is that only when we, the public, have more discretionary income, business will be the big beneficiary of our spending.

Jan. 02 2013 12:04 PM

In honor of the concerns expressed by "hjs121",
I would like to amend my original list -

First they'll come for the guns.

Then they'll come for the "mentally ill"

to include:

Then they'll come for parents "parents that bring violence into the homes with video games, paint ball guns and violent movies".

I'm sure we have a few more scapegoats to designate, please feel free to add your own ( ؟ we want this to be a "comprehensive" (read: "final" ؟) solution ;-)

Jan. 02 2013 11:58 AM
JMD from Manhattan

Some of us, of a certain age, remember when the "since canonized" (by the Taliban Tea Party folks) Ronald Reagan let it be known that Gov. WAS the problem. He cut taxes then, and vital services for the poor and the mentally ill were scaled back so much the the squeegie guys in the 80's were the "canary in the coal mines". Today, we have our mentally ill roaming the streets with no treatment and no drug therapy supervision as we are awash in guns, or locally "subway shovers" Shall I invoke another "foul pun"..."the chickens of the 80 have come home to roost", both in Waash.DC and right here at home. No taxes, no services!!

Jan. 02 2013 11:44 AM
Oscar from ny

The gun and tax stories are part of a growing American experience to let us comprehend how to become a more responsible nation, we cannot let our fears overwhelmed us, we need to stick together to deliver this nation to what our father's intended, true freedom..

Jan. 02 2013 11:43 AM
Walter from New York

Ban guns -- it's that simple. People don't need to own guns. Want to go out an shoot? Join the National Guard. Otherwise, forget it. We used to allow slavery, forbid women the vote, allow smoking on airplanes, allow drunk driving. National campaigns got all that changed for the better.

Gun control advocates are too cautious. It's not about the insane, it's not about assault weapons. It's about all guns. Take a leaf from the Republican playbook and go for the extreme. Ban all guns. We need to start advocating for this now, in the most hard-core and convincing ways possible. That means, among other things, that WNYC has to get on the right side of the issue.

Jan. 02 2013 11:42 AM
Rick from Williamsburg

The undefined use of the term "mental illness" is really making me crazy. Everyone I know, myself included, are on combinations of anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medication, or sleeping pills. Trying to find the "psycho needle in a haystack" before they crack and shoot a bunch of people so the general public can defend their paranoid "constitutional right" is totally absurd. Ban the guns- and help people who need help.

Jan. 02 2013 11:42 AM
Sarah Schlechter from Weston, CT

Wow! If 20 or 30 people were being killed or maimed at a time by contaiminated food, or if there were four major plane crashes in a year, or if children were being killed by a popular toy, the american people would be up in arms demanding the government to do something. Just because the word "gun" is involved, americans refuse to believe that any intervention is necessary? How many more innocent people need to die before people being to recognize that we can prevent these deaths with resonable regulation that still allows some people to own functional firearms? It is insane.

Jan. 02 2013 11:35 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

"Prevent family members of the mentally handicapped or insane from owning guns" ????

What does that mean superf88?

Jan. 02 2013 11:35 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

"Easier for his Mom"? Lanza's mom was well off, and she couldn't get help for her son?

Jan. 02 2013 11:33 AM
rucb_alum from Central New Jersey

The problem is the Second Amendment which guarantees every citizen the right to keep and bear arms. There was a time when the courts interpreted this to apply to organized militias only, therefore public carry of weapons, automatic weapons, grenade launchers, biological weapons, were controlled. Today's court is more than willing to have every citizen packed. It's deadly.

We need to amend the Second Amendment to limit gun ownership to citizens who have been appropriately trained.

If Nancy L's weapon had been stored the range until her borderline son was committed...these children would be alive.

Jan. 02 2013 11:32 AM

Brian you forgot about parents that bring violence into the homes with video games, paint ball guns and violent movies

Jan. 02 2013 11:32 AM

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State..." It doesn't say anything about hunting. It doesn't say anything about self-protection. So any size of gun or bullet clip should be allowed. But if you take it from your house, it better be to overthrow the government. Don't regulate guns. Regulate where it's legal to have them - no where, but inside your home. Take it outside and get arrested.

Jan. 02 2013 11:29 AM

1. Ban Automatic weapons.
2. Prevent family members of the mentally handicapped or insane from owning guns.

Those are the two issues that would address the outrage America has expressed regarding the recent mass killings. Joe himself reminded us that America is (horrifyingly) not outraged by poor people shooting each other with handguns.

Let's be honest about our passions and our faults.

Jan. 02 2013 11:28 AM
Susana from Queens

I am all for helping the mentally ill and limited gun access, but the idea of this "database" Joe is talking about is absolutely frightening to me. I am a peaceful, intelligent person who was diagnosed bipolar about 10 years ago when I was in my 20s. According to Mr Nocera, if you've ever been hospitalized you should be on this "list." I have been hospitalized twice for the usual mild symptoms of what was once called manic depression. Brian Lehrer asked if someone seeing a therapist would be on this list and Joe said no. So basically I have to see a therapist for the rest of my life to avoid being on a criminalization list like this? Well luckily I do see a psychoanalyst every week. As for medication, I was on lithium for 5 years but my psychiatrist took me off a few years ago because the bipolar disorder is completely in remission.
I'm a highly functioning adult with several university degrees, who contributes positively to society, with no history of violence. I am so sad that someone like me would end up on a "list" like this. This idea should really be re-thought.

Jan. 02 2013 11:28 AM
Amy from Manhattan

It's not just shootings in poor neighborhoods that usually don't make the news. Someone I know in the Child Services Administration said that something like 4 children every month die who had CSA caseworkers, & it only gets into the news if it happens in Manhattan or is a particularly horrible case. Could someone in the media look into this, & into the role of mental illness in the CSA system?

Jan. 02 2013 11:27 AM

The second amendment does NOT give wholesale and unfettered gun ownership freedom. If people would read the 2nd Amendment and if this amendment was followed as written gun ownership would be more well regulated and part of a well REGULATED militia and public scope. This is a fact that the advocates of unrestricted gun ownership will try to weasel out of but the language is clear no matter how it has been broken in practice.

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed"

13 words precede the rights of the people to keep and bear arms This is the condition that these arms be part of a WELL REGULATED MILITIA and nothing else.
I ask gun owners ... are you part of a WELL REGULATED MILITIA ? if you are not then where do you derive your perceived right to keep and bear arms?

Jan. 02 2013 11:27 AM

Guns should be regulated like cars. Everyone should be required to carry insurance. Licensing tests should be manditory and every 4 years.

Jan. 02 2013 11:24 AM


Yes, it does seem that we are moving toward rolling back any recent progress made in really helping the mentally ill. Soon anyone who sees a psychiatrist will be effectively labeled as felons and stripped of basic rights.

Jan. 02 2013 11:23 AM

First they'll come for the guns.

Then they'll come for the "mentally ill"

Jan. 02 2013 11:19 AM
Steve from Brooklyn

Isn't it Congress' job to work out the details of all of these issues? The President is supposed to set the agenda and lead the charge. Congress is supposed to legislate, no?

Jan. 02 2013 11:15 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Won't the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (& how come no one mentions the 1st part of its name?) that require coverage & promotion of preventive care reduce the overall cost of health care?

Jan. 02 2013 11:14 AM
Kate from Washington Heights

What needs to change is the Constitution. Repeal the second amendment.

Jan. 02 2013 11:14 AM

Great question: "You have to wonder, what specifically he wants to do?"

He wants to be the President. Sadly, that seems to be all that really matters to him.

Jan. 02 2013 11:13 AM

Is Joe Nocera under the impression that the executive is supposed to be writing legislation? What's this nonsense about "outsourcing" to congress?

Jan. 02 2013 11:13 AM
Kate from Washington Heights

Strange critique that Obama throws out the ideas and then delegates the details to others... most people would call that leadership.

Jan. 02 2013 11:13 AM
Ron Sanecki from buffalo

doesn't all this budget mess come down to currency and the monetary base?

Jan. 02 2013 11:09 AM

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