I forwarded a post of Bob's over at No Oil For Pacifists to a (very) liberal relative in CA. He grudgingly acknowledged some worth in the post, but objected to Bob's use of the word socialist. It strikes him as one of those over-the-top-things that conservatives say that show they are just wingnuts who don't know what they are talking about. He calls them Socialists. How can you take these people seriously?
I won't pretend that I don't know what he means; I know many people take it that way and disregard anything said after. Yet I contend that this is an emotive, illogical response, and the term in its denotative meaning is accurate.
Certainly you can find people who are more socialist than California teachers, but just because they aren't pure or absolute socialists doesn't mean the label is undeserved. Heck most of American society has some socialist streak, and it's percentages of how much the government owns versus how much the taxpayer owns that we argue about.
This false dichotomy by progressives is an artful defense. Unless someone is Scandinavian, or belongs to a party that has the word socialist in its title, they believe it's an inaccurate term that shouldn't be used.
It reminds me of the joke about the snooty woman who asks her friend if she has ever been to Spain. Well, I've been to Madrid, comes the reply. "Oh my dear, you still haven't been to Spain."
Using the word socialist for any redistributive plan is legit. One might reasonably ask for clarification or ask for distinctions to be made, but the term is intellectually defensible.