I like the new rules very much (as of halfway into my first game with them). A few comments from someone who is new to this (so take with a grain of salt). Also I should mention that my experience with the old rules is fairly modest.
1. Re: the goal of reduced micromanagement: The addition of the "free military unit" that is content in republic seems to increase micromanagement, primarily because there's no easy way to tell who is using their "freebie". (Technically, there was the same problem when using Women's sufferage, but it was much less of a big deal since by then my happiness from luxuries was leveraged way up and my cities were larger, having to turn a specialist into an entertainer in a city of size 20 is less of a big deal than removing a guy from the land in a city of 4.) I mention republic here because I didn't find it as problematic when under martial law governments...just easier to keep the peace in general.
I recognize this is more of an interface problem than a rules problem, but assuming the interface isn't changing, I know I would far prefer the rule to change so that the calculation of the freebie to be empire-wide (or continent-wide) to avoid the annoyance associated with every move.
2. Re: historical accuracy: Caravans can't travel through the desert??? Isn't that where they do their best work?
3. Am I right in seeing that the diplomats and caravans cost upkeep and cause unhappiness? Or just confused?
If so, I can understand caravans costing upkeep, and even perhaps unhappiness (if they couldn't bring their wives with them - my knowledge about historical caravans is very limited), but is a diplomat not just one guy (or if not, a spy certainly is). How can his upkeep/unahappiness be at all comparable to an entire regiment of soldiers?
4. Could you explain the notion of waste a bit more in the rules? For example, extra units cause "food waste", but how much? Is it the same as consumption? Do settlers still cost consumption? Why are they hungrier than soldiers? (Yeah, I could ask the last question in the old rules, but this set is more interested in accuracy...)
5. Since the differences between governments is more subtle, it's a bit hard to figure out what is going on. For example, is my trade going to be higher in a monarchy/federation or a republic? The one has a trade bonus, but also trade waste. Perhaps it's just a bigger "tip" section in the rules. The answer "it depends" can be a problematic one, at least as a new player, since I'd have to calculate it out, and recalculate as my civ changes. Particularly if I have the Statue of Liberty and could change every turn.
Also I find the lack of trade bonuses on the ocean a bummer - would it make sense to reduce the base trade on ocean by 1? Presumably if it would, you'd have done it, so why not? (Ideally the answer to this will be detailed enough that I learn something about the game and its balance...)
6. After I have researched Trade, but before the Corporation (ie for most of the game) it seems like there's a big disadvantage to governments that have high corruption eg republic being far worse than monarchy if I have a widespread empire. Is this true? If so, why?