It could be. Absolutely does not matter. You're in that situation. What do you do?
"Barring physicial or mental health reasons, being a victim of criminal activity (rape, theft, et. al.), or "acts of god" (natural disasters), a person ending up in this situation most certainly screwed up somewhere along the line."
Or got screwed. Take a single parent, for whom the other parent skipped town, and due to needing to take care of the child, was unable to complete school. Or take someone who just got cancer, and then was laid off from their job. Why should they continue to be punished for one screwup that may or may not be their fault?
"This is in my opinion the first place where taxes should go. To help out people that have been screwed by chance and bad luck so they don't have to rely on predatory lending."
I do not disagree in the slightest. However, given the current political climate in the US, it's not going to get any better. In fact, the safety net is likely to get worse.
Yes if you are in that situation that might be your only choice, or at the very least the only choice you believe you have. That being said, there's an argument (OP's argument) that if not most of this situations at least a big chunk of them would be avoidable via financial education.
And yes if your partner skipped town or got cancer the government should be helping you out IMO. A person shouldn't be punished for any of it, but that doesn't mean that those situations are not at some level influenced by making bad financial desicions.