Have you seen the chain e-mail about the AIG bailout, and how much money we’d be getting if the funds went directly to the taxpayers instead of Wall Street? The author of the e-mail, one T.J. Birkenmeier, proposes that instead of shelling out $85,000,000,000 to bail out AIG, the money should be given back to the people.

There are roughly 301,000,000 people in the U.S., says Birk. Out of those, maybe 200,000,000 would be over the age of 18. So when you divide $200 million into $85 billion, what do you get? Howzabout $425,000 for every eligible person.

Of course after you take taxes into effect, the amount would be substantially less, somewhere in the neighborhood of $297,500 or $595,000 for couples. Instead of schlecking out our hard-earned dough to corporate shysters, we could be almost 300 grand in the black!

Oh, would that it were.

Here’s the thing about the Birkenmeier proposition; apparently Birk forgot to check his math on his proposed “We Deserve it Dividend.” 85,000,000,000 divided by 200,000,000 is 425, not 425,000.

Birk’s proposition would, after a 30 percent tax, bring just under $300 dollars back to the taxpayer instead of $300,000. (One could argue that even three hundred dollars back is a better alternative than forking over $85 billion to a company that takes post-intervention getaways for executives costing in excess of $400,000, but that’s an argument for another time.)

Far too often, chain e-mails and word-of-mouth gossip are taken at face value.

Barack Obama is not a scary Muslim terrorist that will come after your teenage daughter if elected into the White House. Sarah Palin’s baby is not actually her daughter’s and she’s never been photographed next to a pool brandishing a firearm. Rants commonly attributed to George Carlin or Bill Cosby are totally false. And the list goes on.

So before you click on “Forward to All,” take a minute and look at what you’re actually passing on. Do some research. Check the facts. Help keep ignorance out of the inbox.