Meta description tags are not even read by search engines anymore....The text on the page is read and posted in the search results, relating to the search phrase. However , yes, the title is still important.Although it may not help rankings it probably is a good practice to give each page a proper title and description. Those are the items users will see when the find your page in a search engine, so they need to be clear and descriptive so the user chooses to click on your site rather then the other results.
For clarification, I meant keywords, not description.Meta description tags are DEFINITELY read by the search engines. Type site:techguy.org into google and look at the snippets after each link, they come from the meta description. If there is no description provided it will take the top of the page. Many html pages start with a header and navigation which is consistant across all pages, in this case if there is no meta description each link will look identical.
If the search includes keywords, it will take the relevant portion of the page, however if the keywords are in the meta description it will display that.
So the meta description makes no effect on what position the page is in, but it provides control over how the link is displayed, which can definitely help get a visitor.
Finally, even if the only time your site comes up is with keywords that are not in the description(think about rewriting them) and no one ever sees it, it won't hurt your rankings. So here is a step that may help, but can never hurt.