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Greenhouse App: Spot the political sellout!

Samantha Luiz's picture

 What if I put it to you that there’s an app that can expose corrupt politicians and easily track where they get their money from?

Get out of here, you say?

That was my reaction when I read about High schooler Nick Rubin Link ’s new creation Greenhouse, a browser plug-in with the tagline “Some are red. Some are blue. All are green .” Yes, green as in dollar bills.

The plug-in aims to “shine light on a social and industrial disease of today: the undue influence of money in our Congress.”

Greenhouse web app (Screenshot)

While the app is not applicable to South African politicians (darn!), it should be interesting to explore where America’s politicians get their money from. How many (and which) politicians are funded by big oil companies or pharmaceuticals? Who is inconspicuously pushing for a new bill from behind the scenes…?

“As you can imagine, reading about how your member of Congress voted in a recent health bill becomes all the more enlightening if you know how much money the health industry showered him in at the last election,” explains Vice Media .

new media and democracy
I totally agree with Vice Media. This app is offering a whole new level of transparency that would not have been possible before the age of new media. Thanks to sixteen year old Rubin, the public is given one more channel to play an active role in democracy.
The browser extension is free and available for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.

The app also displays every Senator and Representative’s detailed campaign contribution data, including total amount received, breakdown by industry and by size of donation.

“I think the one problem is that the sources of income for members of congress haven’t been simple and easily accessible when people have needed it. More recently, I’ve been teaching myself how to code, and I thought that something like Greenhouse that puts the data at people’s fingertips would be a perfect solution. It really is the intersection of these two passions of mine—coding and politics. I made it after school and on weekends on my computer,” Rubin told Vice Media.

A South African Greenhouse?
South Africa needs Greenhouse! It would be enlightening to keep track of who is stashing our politicians’ pockets. Particularly I would love to know who is funding Julius Malema’s party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). I point at him because the EFF prides itself in embodying what some might call radical economic reforms. Considering how the EFF has risen to become South Africa’s third biggest political party (as revealed by the recent General Elections), it would be worthwhile to explore that area.

That said, hopefully South Africa will have a Greenhouse version by the time the next elections roll by.

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