Teen Creates Browser Plugin To Expose Where Politicians Get Their Funding

Image via Greenhouse

Don’t ever underestimate the potential of today’s teenagers. While some of them may be getting high and rebelling, others are busy trying to change the world.

One high-school sophomore from Seattle, Nicholas Rubin has created a browser plugin to teach the public where its politicians receive their funds.

Greenhouse is a free browser extension and is currently available for Safari, Chrome and Firefox. It allows a user to mouse over a politician’s name, which is then automatically highlighted on any webpage, and up pops information related to that politician’s funding sources.

Image via Greenhouse

Image via Greenhouse

The pop-up contains information on total contributions, small donations of less than $200 and industry breakdown from the last full election cycle. For small donations, a percentage is shown, and you’ll even get to see a rank of the top 50 members of Congress. The information behind the numbers is provided by the latest 2014 contribution data on opensecrets.org.

Rubin, the 16-year-old self-taught coder, says he created Greenhouse in order to expose and combat a “social and industrial disease of today,” referring to the well-known influence of monetary donations on members of Congress. Rubin hopes that the plugin will allow people to take a closer look at which members of office are receiving funds from questionable sources like the gas and oil industries. At the least, his wish is that people just start to pay more attention to who is making the laws in this country and what big whigs are, in turn, influencing those decision-makers.

This influence is everywhere, even if it is hidden,” Rubin says on the Greenhouse website. “I aim to expose and publicize that disease through technology that puts important data where it is most useful, on websites where people read about the actions, or inaction, of members of Congress every day. It is my hope that providing increased transparency around the amount and source of funding of our elected representatives may play a small role in educating citizens and promoting change.”

The motto of the Greenhouse plugin, Rubin’s belief that money is at the core of corruption in the American political system, reads loud and clear: “Some are red. Some are blue. All are green.”

Rubin adds: “Even though I am only 16 years old, not quite old enough to vote, I am old enough to know that our political system desperately needs fixing. I hope that this tool is one step in that direction.”