A 16-Year Old Programmer Just Made a Plugin That Shows Where Politicians Get Their Funding

Nicholas Rubin is a 16-year old self-taught computer programmer from Seattle, Washington. He is also the inventor of Greenhouse, a new browser plugin that let’s you know exactly where politicians get their campaign funding from.

When the plugin is active, the names of House or Senate members on any given webpage are highlighted. All you have to do is hover your mouse over the name of a politician, and a box will pop up showing all the industries and groups that contributed funds to their campaign, as well as how much the politician got from each sector.

What the plugin looks like in action. Click to enlarge

The box also shows you what percentage of their contributions came from small donors (contributions of less than $200), and let’s you know whether or not they are in favor of reforming our relatively seedy campaign finance system.

Here’s the statement that Nicholas released with the plugin:

“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. If you use the extension when reading about a Congressional vote on energy policy, for example, maybe you’ll discover that a sponsor of a bill has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the oil and gas industry. Or maybe you’ll learn that the top donors to a member of Congress who opposes tort reform are lawyers and law firms. I use data from the last full election cycle (2012) and plan to update it as more relevant data becomes available. Special thanks to OpenSecrets.org for providing access to that data.

The motto of Greenhouse is: “Some are red. Some are blue. All are green.” What it signifies is that the influence of money on our government isn’t a partisan issue. Whether Democrat or Republican, we should all want a political system that is independent of the influence of big money and not dependent on endless cycles of fundraising from special interests. The United States of America was founded to serve individuals, not big interests or big industries. Yet every year we seem to move farther and farther away from our Founders’ vision.”

I must say this is one of the best ideas I have ever seen to combat against the influence of special interest groups on our political system.

For years, politicians have pretended to personally care about issues when, more often than not, the truth is that they were bribed by that industry (through campaign finance) to make decisions that  would help the industry.

I don’t think this will make politicians At the very least, it will make politicians think twice about where they get their contributions from.

You can download the Greenhouse plugin for free here. (NOTE: because of the plugins popularity, Greenhouse’s homepage was down when this story was published, but I’m sure they will have it back up and running soon.)

(h/t Represent.Us)

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One thought on “A 16-Year Old Programmer Just Made a Plugin That Shows Where Politicians Get Their Funding”

  1. Yeah, this is an awesome plugin.

    I’d love to have a politcal system free from the influence of big money. Problem is, everyone seems to think that the best way to accomplish that is to pass more laws, more regulations, institute more oversight and more watchdog agencies….i.e., they want to expand the government and expand its power.

    That doesn’t work. The size of a government and the scope of its power over a nation are directly proportional to the amount of money it will receive above and beyond taxes from private sector interests. This is simple to see and comprehend…because the more power a government has, the more it can interfere in everyday life, which affects businesses in myriad ways and can mean the difference between make or break for some of them. So it isn’t any wonder that companies seek favorable conditions for themselves through government…why wouldn’t they? And the larger and more powerful the government gets, the larger and more powerful the “donations” from the private sector.
    This trend continues through more authoritarian types of governments all the way to complete tyrannical despotism….at which point, all of the national businesses are owned and operated by the government, and nobody but the government has any money at all.

    So…want to get rid of big money influence over our society and our political system? It’s easy…start shrinking the government and taking its power away…especially its power over the market.

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