Letter: Ryan's concept of natural rights

Republican vice presidential nominee, Rep. Paul Ryan addresses

Republican vice presidential nominee, Rep. Paul Ryan addresses the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. (Aug. 29, 2012) (Credit: AP)

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The most disturbing line in Rep. Paul Ryan's speech at the Republican National Convention was that "our rights come from nature and God, not from government" ["Ryan's hope: An American 'turnaround,' " News, Aug. 30].

Natural rights, God-given rights and human rights are beautiful, inspired concepts, but they can only become operational if an authority will enforce them. The enforcing authority is, of course, government.

Is there a natural or God-given right to clean air? It's hard to pin down a direct biblical statement on this, but the Environmental Protection Agency gives quite a few specifics. And the EPA has some enforcement powers.

We need a serious discussion about what we owe to our government and what we want from our government. Comments like Ryan's are not helpful.

Gary Simon, Stony Brook

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