I believe a part of contention between balance = good and balance = who cares comes from the approach to role playing. People who see it as more of a game are more inclined to favor balance. People who see it as collaborative story telling are more concerned about a good story which may even be easier without balance.
That is definitely not me. I believe in Story first, and I WANT Balance between all the roles available. Because Balance = Star Power. And Star Power equates the ability for players to feel like they're contributing. Which in different games means different things. No one wants to show up with a Face/Talker character only to find out that the Fighting Man not only can do it well, ends up being BETTER at it in the long run.
Table Top RPGs are in general a cooperative venture, and that means everyone at the table should, by nature contribute. Now sometimes that means in terms of combat effectiveness, in others it's specialties in and out of a conflict situation, it all depends on the game you play. And sometimes it means that yes, some house rules should be incorporated to help facilitate it. On the other hand, if you have to rewrite the entire game to make sure the rest of the players can contribute, then you need to evaluate if this is what you want to do.
For some us, that's perfectly fine. As long as we realize that yes, potentially a lot of 'work' is ahead of us. Others, we have a limit as to how far we believe we should do the heavy lifting. And even within those limits (of both groups) it depends on the game. For example, Exalted. TO ME, I have never met any other Pen and Paper RPG system that actively hates the GM. It goes out of it's way to screw you over, for not only d you need to know the 'charm system' for the PCs (and heaven forfend if they are playing separate types of Exalts!) but you need to know every other charm of every enemy you intend to use in the game. Even if you end up handwaving it extensively an idea of what they do is necessary. But for other people, they don't care, they've been playing White Wolf games since inception and so they've already built up a catalog of innate house rules, hand waving and other short cuts all ready to use and stick into places the game might break for someone else.
Another game is Dark Heresy/Rogue Trader/Deathwatch. For ME, I can give bonuses out the wazoo to signify that such and such a character has experience doing that sort of activity on a pretty regular basis (I tend to give a 10-20% bonus to the percentile rolls based on what their backgrounds are.) Others agonize and scrape and scrimp for all the bonuses and penalties, often making their characters feel incompetent (after all, the base IS 30% on average, if you're lucky you'll be able to get a natural 40% to a stat) and they don't like that, so they add points to the stats, or find other mechanisms for competence.
It's different for everyone. And we need to understand that what works for you, may not work for someone else, even if it makes sense to you. (For example, I believe to mitigate the 'God Stat' issue in the WoD, any of them old and new, you make Melee combat, both armed and unarmed, to be based of Strength, right down to defenses if necessary. But to some people that like, "AAAAAAH THE BURNING! THE BURNING! TAKE OUT THE D&DISM OUT OF MY WHITE WOLF! I'M MELTING! I'M MELTING!!!" So in the end, I put it out there and let anyone do whatever they want with that suggestion. Right down ignoring it as an utterly stupid idea.)