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.

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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