We lowered the wages of the units to 1 gold per turn.
We've been working on the random crashes at startup, but we weren't able to eliminate it entirely. It's a crash while loading the data, but since it doesn't happen in the same spot twice it's not a specific file and so it's much harder to track down.
If you get the crash, just try starting Elemental again. If it happens every time, rebooting may help.
We didn't get a chance to look at the save game crashes yet, or the crash when tryiing to research techs with no milestones.