The financial chaos in 2008 began with Wall Street. However, this did not happen overnight.

It took years of policies (under Democrats and Republicans) that have led us to where we are today by changing the basic structures of banking.

There used to be a very well-defined division between commercial banks and investment banks.

The biggest political decision and banking reform was in 1999, when parts of the Glass-Steagall Act were repealed. Now we have big banks that are too big to fail and rich hedge fund managers gambling with the money.

They gambled big in the years up to 2008 and lost big. The American people (99 percenters) bailed out the banks, many people (99 percenters) lost their homes, many of us (99 percenters) lost money in our IRAs and 401(k)s, and big business lost money and started firing workers (99 percenters). The bubble burst in 2008, and the American economy went with it.

Some figures from 2009 indicate 400 Americans have more wealth than half of all Americans. Much like in Cairo, and in London, and in Athens, the protests are about too many have-nots.

Until we get the money out of politics, nothing will change. The Supreme Court ruling of Citizens United will put more money into politics and elections.

Billionaire Warren Buffett recently remarked that the class war is already over; his class won.

The government is not the root of the illness; its infection of dysfunction is the symptom. Through the years, our governmental systems, our politicians and the office of the presidency are held hostage to big money and special interests. They are caught in this system with no way out until the 99 percenters apply the pressure needed to change the process.

In America we have a very resilient and strong Wall Street, and a downcast and depressed Main Street. Now, finally, we see the protest on Wall Street and in many other cities around the country attended by many of our young people. By their demonstrations and protests they obviously see the dilemma.

The protest called Occupy Wall Street is not about begrudging the rich. This is not about beating up on capitalism. This is about fairness and injustices. It is about America’s democracy eroding away for the 99 percenters.

It is this young generation, the ones who care, the ones with their eyes open to what is really happening in the world; these are the ones who will change the things that need changing.

Change does not happen from the top — things change from the bottom — from the people — the 99 percenters.

Susan Thurmond