But that's a huge change over what we have today and if people flipped out about losing their cheesy wheel mechanic, they'd really be upset at having the entire economic system be about your citizenry (a Drengin warrior might be better than a Torian warrior but a Torian farmer migth be better than a Drengin farmer. Maybe you should send all the Torian farmers you find to your best food worlds and build up a trade system to get your food out to your other planets, etc.).
That sort of fundamental change is something I'd like to look at but wouldn't dream to put into a .update.
This makes me wonder if you really understood what the wheel backlash was about, tbh.
People don't actually care about the wheel itself. Most people hate it. Even those among us who use it religiously actually tend to dislike it. What we like about the wheel is what it allowed us to do, not how it allows us to do it. I get the feeling that if you'd just put the focuses in at 100% offset, most people wouldn't have minded as much as they did. The problem was that you were trying to kill two birds with one stone - getting rid of the accursed wheel, and simultaneously nerfing production by forcing players to waste lots of it. This spectacularly failed on both counts, since we were able to work around the focus restriction and still get 75-100% output on indy/res planets using the global spending wheel (nullifying any balance improvements), and it also just pissed off a lot of people by forcing them to sacrifice a ton of production. You tried to balance the economy without actually balancing the economy, and you tried to change the interface without changing the system we were using the interface to control. That was, inevitably, a disaster - and I did say it would be when you first raised the idea back in August, for pretty much exactly these reasons.
But remember when you first mooted the idea of replacing the wheel, you asked us what it should be replaced with. The ONLY popular suggestion for replacement wasn't a UI tweak at all. It was a complete change in how the economic mechanics worked - a building-centric production system, where buildings produced flat manu/econ/research and we wouldn't have to worry about telling the population what to do anymore. The wheel would die because it would become irrelevant, not because you had mandated it must die despite everything else remaining the same (funnily enough, you were trying to force the population to do something and you got a lot of coercion resistance - pretty ironic considering the reasoning you gave for removing it ).
That strongly suggests to me that you'll actually get a lot less resistance from completely changing how the economy works, than you did from simply trying to leave it exactly as it is but changing how we interact with it. The wheel is popular because it is currently the best possible interface for controlling the economic system you've put into the game. If you want it to die, then you need to give us an economy where the wheel is not the most effective way to control it. Then no-one will give a damn when you remove the obsolete wheel.
The citizen-economy idea is the kind of change that, while it's actually even more of a gamble than just ditching the wheel was, the pay-off is a lot higher and so we're less likely to throw our toys out the pram if you attempt it - the payoff from the wheel/focus switch was 'you now have to govern like a retard'. The payoff from the citizen-style economy you're suggesting is 'population will become an immensely cool and characterful part of the game'. I suspect that you'll find players are a lot more forgiving of that.