While I loved the wheel as well I understand why they did it. Remember GCII never had such planetary management. You could never set individual planets to specific production paths (research, production, economy). You had to do all of it via global sliders.
Now fast forward to today. The reason we have the change is to put us the players on an even footing with the AI. The Ai as such was never able to compete with human players who specialized all of thier planets. It was FAR too easy to pull ahead in any path against the ai. You could out research it, out produce and all while banking millions in credits.
The ai was left with global changes which as we all know completely gimp you. You could either produce or research or economy but none great unless you gimp the other two.
Now they did two things. The gave the ai better logic on planetary specializing while at the same lowering our ability to specialize. The net result is a much more challenging game against non human opponents.
Please remember that in GC2 the economy had almost the same problem. The apperance of the local wheel made me want to buy and play the game cause that dealt with the problem and was a clear design evolution step for the series, even though GC2 had a deeper economy model. It's been in the game for such a long time that I consider it a hallmark GC3 feature. If you go back to the GC2 forums and read the old economy threads you will understand that the local wheel is essential. It fits the setting: planets and economy hubs even today are extremely specialized, it fits "fixing GC2", it fits in the adding depth category.
Now, if after countless LPs, streams, alpha,beta, release, and patches you take it out in 1.4: Stardock you are either ignorant as a developer or simply don't care about the product, because at this point the economy model of GC2 is better, has more depth and I want to go back there.
They effectively pulled a Civ5 on our Civ4, and the're not even firaxis. But after this I'm no longer sure about them at all as designers.
There were other design choices in the base game that were poor & questionable, that's why you don't see a founder icon here on the left. I bought with large discount and even at that point I had a few reservations. I can't even begin to think how veteran GC players that got founders feel. I feel cheated out of my money & choice.