That may be where it's helpful to read the whole in context. Specifically the 'gold was almost infinitely available depending on how big a hit you were prepared to take to your science' and the point about cottage spam. Gold was never a limiting resource beyond the hit it caused to other areas (mainly science) you adjusted with the slider. The key point is that maintenance is a purely punitive mechanic that punishes something you have to do in order to play the game - you would take a hit to your science to expand, and you couldn't decide not to expand and still play effectively, whether you're using the slider immediately to compensate for the maintenance cost of growth or using it down the line to earn gold to offset money previously not collected due to maintenance. Health was the same, and one of the worst-implemented mechanics in a Civ game (not only was it a purely punitive mechanic, it did a very bad job of punishing you since the way you kept healthy was by doing things - building granaries, keeping forests, removing jungles - you were going to do anyway because that's good play, reducing it to pure micromanagement with no purpose and of no strategic interest) for all that the idea of a health system is appealing enough that many players want it back (and a Civ V mod handled it quite well). While global happiness in Civ V is largely punitive, you can choose to play without excess expansion in order to limit its impact - this is the core difference. Civ IV punitive mechanics weren't about trade-offs in any strategic sense (for all that they often entailed short-terms resource-for-resource trade-offs), they were just about punishing you for playing the game the way it was meant to be played and creating pointless repetitive busywork (yep, latest city's at 6 pop. Time to get whipping some slaves). Not expanding wasn't a viable option, not growing wasn't a viable option, you just had set thresholds at which these became problematic.