16-year-old Nicholas Rubin has restored this reporter’s faith in young people. While his peers were busy copying their homework off Wikipedia or blasting One Direction, Rubin decided to take an active stance in politics. The teen quickly understood the power money donations wield over politicians, calling it a “social and industrial disease of today.” As a result, the sophomore created a browser plugin that allows web surfers to ascertain which organizations are bankrolling their politicians.
The free plugin is called Greenhouse, because as far as politicians go, “Some are red. Some are blue. All are green.” It’s compatible with major internet browsers like Safari, Chrome and Firefox. Users simply scroll over a politician’s name with their mouse cursor, and a pop-up will reveal the source of the politician’s funding. It is Rubin’s fervent hope that people will be encouraged to investigate questionable donation sources, like Nancy Pelosi’s $205,500 contribution from ‘Health Professionals’ (Or insurance and pharmaceutical lobbyists). The content available is the most up-to-date information available from opensecrets.org.
Rubin is acutely aware of the surreptitious role lobbyists play in politics for someone his age. “This influence is everywhere, even if it is hidden,” Rubin says on his 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.”