“But that is what it is (technically a form of larceny which in UK has been rolled into the definition of theft)”
Not disputing that. Just pointing out that without some level of this sort of “theft” people would be dying on the streets, because as you say….
“People are forced to take items because the economy provides them with no capacity to exchange their labour. “
Precisely correct. Or, to simplify it, the society has to choose between giving them a dole, or watching them take it themselves via the other sort of theft (the illegal kind) as they strive to feed their dependents.
..but people know deep down that it isn’t right for somebody to receive something without doing something for it first. …
Bingo. This is why in the US election, addressing that working class voter, they were far more interested in Trump telling them they could have a good job than they were in Mrs. Clinton telling them she’d get them a $15 hour min wage. They want to work, and they don’t want a handout, which is what such a drastic increase in our minimum wage (it’s a doubling) amounts to.